Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has ruled out the prospect of his inconsistent side being dragged into a relegation dogfight in the second half of the season.
Two defeats in four days against Manchester United and Tottenham, have left Boro 16th in the Premiership table and only two points above the bottom three.
However, Southgate remains optimistic that his side will soon pull away from trouble.
He said: "I don't have thoughts of being in a relegation battle when we're only 16 games into the season. You have to be more positive than that.
"Obviously we've not been picking up as many points as we'd have liked, nor as many as we believe we should have had.
"But the scene was set after the first six or eight games, and I said then it was going to be a tough season. Now I can look back at some of the problems that we had in the first few weeks, and it's pleased me how we've dealt with them.
"We're getting things right - but there are still one or two problems which we need to be working on, and that's what we're doing.
"We've not scored as many goals as we'd have liked, but we've scored in each of our last three games. Unfortunately, we've not won any of those games, but we're trying to deal with the lapses in concentration that have cost us points.
"We're also working on finding ways of improving our goals output, and so it's good to have Mark Viduka fit again and back with us. We were able to give him almost a full half at Tottenham on Tuesday and he'll be all the better for that.
"We have a spell of games coming up around Christmas where we believe we should be looking to pick up points, so it's good to have all our strikers available."