EDDIE Howe is looking for his players to show their mettle after suffering a third-successive league defeat at the hands of Leeds.
The Clarets slumped to 21st in the Championship table after Robert Snodgrass’ late double earned Simon Grayson’s men a smash and grab victory in front of the BBC cameras at Turf Moor.
Howe admitted it was a difficult defeat to stomach after dominating the game, and he hopes for a response at Birmingham City on Tuesday night, he said: “I think every defeat hurts the same. I don’t think we’ll need more picking up.
“We know we’ve got a tough game on Tuesday, and we know we’ve got to bounce back and respond.
“The lads need to show strength of character now because this is a difficult run that we’re on.
“I believe in the group, I still believe in the team we have, I still believe we are good enough, but the results aren’t reflecting that, so we need to try get a result as quick as we can.”
Individual errors again blighted a fine display, but Howe defended his players: “When you look at today’s performance you wouldn’t say there was anything wrong with our back four or our team for that matter.
“You wouldn’t have seen us losing the game on 70 minutes. We were solid and defended very well.
“Individual mistakes will cost us again like they have done, and it’s something that of course if we feel we need to, we’ll look to address, but as I’ve said before we believe in the squad we’ve got.”
Howe felt defeat was cruel on his side, who Grayson admitted should have been out of sight at half-time after taking the lead through Jay Rodriguez, and squandering a number of chances.
Asked if it was the hardest defeat to take so far this season, he said: “I think so because we performed so well and there were a lot of positives to take out of individual performances from the players.
“Individually and collectively I thought we were very good.
“We looked a real threat going forward. Leeds are a good side so that pleases us, but ultimately everyone will look at the result and we’ve lost.
“It’s a real tough one to take because for long periods – probably the full 90 – I thought we were excellent.
“We started at a really good tempo, scored a good goal, carried that on for the rest of the first half and we were well on top. Lee Grant’s had one shot to save and he ends up picking the ball out of the net twice.
“We wanted a second goal, but we didn’t feel we were conceding chances. I thought we looked solid. I thought we looked really good defensively – a lot better than we have done of late, but we still concede twice.
“I thought we defended against a lively front two and a good Leeds side really well. I don’t think they gave us any problems.
“We worked their keeper regularly.
“We lacked the second goal when I think our play deserved it.
“I felt we should have had a penalty as well in the second half. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes now.
“There’s huge disappointment for us and the lads feel the same way in the changing room. It’s a tough one to take, but we have to and we have to try to bounce back.”