DEAN Ryan insists Worcester Warriors are not accepting relegation as a forgone conclusion and believes they can pull off the great escape.

Defeat to London Irish last Saturday was the Sixways side’s 12th out of 12 in the Aviva Premiership and did little to improve their chances of beating the drop.

Eleven points now separate them from Newcastle with 10 games remaining once the competition resumes following the break for the Amlin Challenge Cup and LV=Cup.

Ryan was critical of fans who questioned the commitment of players in the wake of the Irish loss but he has reiterated his faith in the squad.

The director of rugby said: “I still believe that if the group gets itself in the right place then every single game is up for grabs. I know we haven’t got the returns on that but we have shown in the past five or six weeks that we can be competitive.

“This group are now working really hard to try and avoid relegation and we’re going to keep trying really hard until statistically that’s not possible.

“We’re not prepared to not take on that challenge or accept that relegation is something that we’re facing.

“The next 10 games allows us an opportunity and we’re not accepting that we can’t take that.

“The weekend’s result made it a little bit more diffficult, we’re not hiding from that or trying to pretend that we don’t know what the truth is.

“But we’ve got to learn what happened to us because there’s no doubt the team that played on the weekend didn’t represent itself the way it has done the previous five or six weeks.”

Warriors now face back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup matches against Sale Sharks on Friday and at home to Oyonnax the following Saturday.

Ryan will use the fixtures to give more time to the club’s youngsters, such as Max Stelling and Ben Howard, who both signed senior contracts this week.

But the break from Premiership action will also allow captain Jonathan Thomas (concussion) and hooker Agustín Creevy (knee) to get themselves fit.

The Sixways chief said: “There is an opportunity for people still to be in the mix selection-wise.

“Part of the reason we’ve chopped and changed selection is because nobody’s really nailed down a position, especially in some key areas.

“That means it’s up for grabs still and that allows some of those that have been on the fringes to have a go and see if they can put their hand up. Then we go back into the Premiership and we’ll see if we can fight our way out of this.”