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Ranieri: Belief will help Fulham in battle for Premier League survival

Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri maintains everyone at the club must believe they can fight their way to Premier League survival against the odds.

The Cottagers are eight points from safety with 11 games to play and also have a worse goal difference than four of the bottom six.

After heading to fellow relegation-battlers Southampton on Wednesday night, Fulham host west-London neighbours Chelsea, before tackling Ranieri’s old club Leicester.

March finishes with successive home matches against title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City.

Despite bookmakers and pundits alike expecting Fulham to be back in the Sky Bet Championship again next season, the Italian coach insists there is still plenty to play for.

“We have to be together, we have to believe. It’s very, very important to show our supporters we can do this job,” Ranieri said.

“The morale is good. The lads have trained well. They believe. It’s a difficult situation, but I believe because they believe.”

Should Fulham secure what would be a first away Premier League win of the season at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday night, it would lift them to within four points of the Saints – and potentially breathe new life into their survival fight.

“This is a crucial match,” Ranieri said.

“I said many times, every match for us is like a final, and we have to play with this in our minds. Every ball is important. I am confident in my players.

“I hope tomorrow we do something good to achieve a good result.”

Ranieri added at a press conference ahead of the match: “I expect a lot of pressure from Southampton – they move the ball very quickly, they play directly.

“It’s important for us to create chances to score the goals.”

Fulham had taken an early lead at West Ham last Friday night through Ryan Babel, only to end up beaten 3-1 and suffer a third-straight defeat.

Ranieri knows his team must quickly learn how to make the most of building on their foothold in games if they are to somehow drag themselves clear of the relegation zone.

“Think how many times we have started well and scored goals. We have done it against Leicester, Wolves, West Ham, Burnley,” the Fulham boss said.

“We have scored a goal and let it go. That must be our strength and we must grow from that. Together we must try to score a second.

“We concede so many times. We score first, but we draw or lose. Imagine if we won against Wolves, Leicester, even the last match.

“We would have more points, but that’s the Premier League.”