COACH BRIAN McDermott insists he still believes Leeds Rhinos can qualify for the Super-8s.
And he denied feeling under pressure personally, despite a fourth successive defeat and a ninth in 11 competitive games this year.
Last year’s treble winners remain second from bottom in First Utility Super League after a 14-10 loss at Salford Red Devils.
With 13 games left before the competition splits, Rhinos need 16 points to equal the tally of last year’s eighth-placed side.
If they finish in the bottom four Rhinos will go into the Qualifiers, a relegation/promotion battle also including the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading quartet.
Speaking after Saturday’s setback, McDermott said he believes Rhinos can avoid that embarrassment and, asked if he feels under pressure himself, replied “no”.
Rhinos were without nine players due to injury and Mitch Achurch damaged an ankle late on, though the player said afterwards it is not serious.
McDermott said Brett Delaney “maybe has a chance” of returning at home to Hull on Friday. But he added: “I think Moon’s another couple of weeks off, Briscoe’s a number of weeks away. There’s nobody imminent, other than maybe Brett Delaney.”
Adam Cuthbertson missed the game two days ago after suffering what McDermott described as a “freak” biceps injury in training.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to stop him from doing too much, it’s just very, very painful,” McDermott said.
“I am not sure he will be featuring next week, but I don’t think it’s a long-term injury.”
Last year’s coach of the year stressed he is “keen not just to keep making it about injuries” and he said: “Have we got injuries? Yes.
“Could we have won with the team we had out? Yes, we wanted to win that one – I thought we were capable of winning that one.”
McDermott repeated his claim that flooding at Rhinos’ Kirkstall training ground has “had a bearing” on their form, but he claimed confidence is not an issue.
“I am asked about self-doubt, but there’s none of that,” he said. “The players are tight together, the players are strong.
“We are going through some experiences together as a group, which is not easy. But I don’t think anybody’s going home wracked with self-doubt.
“It’s clear what we need to do and it’s clear how we’ve got to do it.”
Assessing Leeds’ latest performance, McDermott said: “I thought Salford watched us really well defensively.
“I thought they were very good defensively.
“In terms of where we’ve been as a team I thought that was the most we’ve played for each other this year.
“You could see a team trying to defend for each other, showing up for each other in attack. There were a couple of sloppy moments for us near their tryline in the first half, which makes it really difficult for yourself.
“I thought we had a crack throughout the game, but Salford were very good defensively.
“Clearly there’s things in attack that’s not going for us.
“We dropped the ball too often when we built some pressure.”