Ross County midfielder Charlie Lakin hopes his previous experience of beating the drop can help him avoid relegation with the Staggies.
County are involved in a dogfight at the bottom of the Premiership with five games remaining, with only two points separating John Hughes’ 10th placed side from bottom-of-the-table Hamilton Accies.
The Staggies face a crucial match on Saturday away to Kilmarnock, who are only a point behind them in 11th.
On-loan midfielder Lakin has had prior encounters at the foot of the table with parent club Birmingham City in the English Championship, while the 21-year-old also survived a relegation scare during a loan stint with League Two side Stevenage last season.
The Hertfordshire outfit were bottom of the table when the campaign was curtailed due to Covid-19, but stayed up after Macclesfield Town were deducted points.
Lakin is determined to preserve County’s top-flight status before he returns to the Blues in the summer.
Lakin said: “I’ve been there with previous clubs and know what it is like. We’ve got to get wins on the board.
“I’ve been in quite a few relegation battles, to be fair – one last year at Stevenage and quite a few at Birmingham.
“Fingers crossed, they’ve all gone well. Let’s hope it can carry on here because no-one wants a relegation on your CV, let alone one with a club in the Premiership.
“The crucial thing is to stay together. People are going to make mistakes, it won’t be perfect from everyone for the 90 minutes.
“When those mistakes happen, we just have to get on with it and keep going.
“When they happen, we can’t let them beat us to a pulp.
“As soon as you go a goal down against any team, it is hard to come back from it.
“But if we keep a good mentality and stick together, we should be all right.”
County go into the trip to Rugby Park on the back of three straight defeats, and Lakin says the Staggies squad must rally together for the run in.
The Englishman added: “It is a hard situation we’re in, but we’ve always had that team spirit.
“It is a good group of lads, good individuals.
“You can speak to anyone and they will say the same.
“Obviously it is frustrating coming off defeats and results that shouldn’t have gone that way – through silly mistakes leading to goals – but it is always a good team spirit.
“We are going to need that more than ever this week and into the next five games.
“It is the most important five games of our lives.
“Next Saturday is probably one of the biggest of the five.
“We have to prepare well this week, get ourselves together and go out there with everything we’ve got.
“We’ve got to win that game.”
County suffered a 3-1 Highland derby defeat to Championship side Caley Thistle on Friday, which eliminated them from the Scottish Cup.
The Dingwall men had taken the lead before falling to a deserved loss, and Lakin says the habit of conceding cheap goals must be eradicated.
He added: “In the first half, I thought we were decent actually.
“We could have moved the ball quicker, but we got the opening goal and straight away we conceded.
“It has happened all season. We score and within five minutes we concede.
“It just has to stop.
“It isn’t good enough.
“I don’t know what it is, but we need to get it out of our system as soon as possible.
“It could affect some of the lads mentally, knowing even when we score first we might concede.
“It means no-one really gets upbeat.
“We have to get rid of that mentality as quickly as possible.”