BILLY Crook says Braintree Town have to show their ruthless side when they head to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Iron midfielder has come back into the starting line-up for their last two Vanarama National League games after a knee injury that kept him sidelined for almost two months, but it hasn't been a triumphal comeback.

Braintree were pegged back in a 2-2 draw against Sutton United and then lost 2-0 to Barrow and Crook felt last weekend's action highlighted where the team is falling short at the moment.

They are still bottom of the Vanarama National League table and he said the defeat by Barrow showed that they needed to be much better at both ends of the pitch to make sure there is no rapid return to the lower level after their promotion from National League South last season.

“When you’re down at the bottom, you have to keep believing," said Crook.

“We didn’t come up just to go straight back down.

“We can’t just enjoy the ride, we have to show fight and it’s not over – it’s definitely not over.

“We need to stay together and keep believing.

“Even that performance against Barrow - we’re trying our hardest to put the ball in the back of the net and had a number of crosses, corners and free-kicks, but when you’re down there, you need to take your chance or you’ll get punished.

“It’s like (manager) Hakan (Hayrettin) says to us, we need to be better in both boxes.

“We need to be more ruthless.

“Barrow didn’t have many chances but they took two and then in their box we just weren’t ruthless enough.

“All over the pitch, we are matching teams and competing but it’s in the two six-yard boxes where we need to be much more ruthless.

“We’re playing with confidence elsewhere.

“Hakan came in and recognised that we have great pace in the team and he wants us to use it.

“We are trying to play where we know it hurts the opposition – in their half – rather than build it up slowly and we’re confident enough to do that, but it’s no good if we don’t take our chances at the end of it."

Aside from their position in the National League relegation zone, the Iron have had to deal with injuries to a number of key players and several departures in recent weeks.

It has mean boss Hakan Hayrettin has had to bring in some loan players to bolster his squad, with Callum Morton and Nicholas Clayton-Phillips being the latest to arrive from West Bromwich Albion last week.

Crook said he understood the need to make changes but he said it could take time for new players to fully blend into the squad.

“Things like injuries and suspensions can affect us because we are part-time," he said.

“It means the manager has to bring more players in and it takes time for them to settle in.

“You see a new face in the week and then they’re in the team at the weekend but you have to look at it from the manager’s point of view because we don’t have time to waste.

“If players aren’t doing it or are out then he does have the contacts to bring in players from higher levels.

“Hopefully that full-time experience can help the part-time boys out.

“You saw that in how fit Callum Morton was against Barrow and the way he kept running all game.

“He was unlucky not to score and I’m sure he’ll feel he should have got at least one, but for a young boy in his first game at this level, he did well.

“We can take confidence from that and Nick (Clayton-Phillips) did well when he came on; hopefully they can add to us."