Danny Hylton thinks it should be the Oxford United players rather than the coaching staff who are held responsible for their lowly position in the table.

And the U’s top scorer admits they are in a dogfight after a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Cambridge United on Saturday saw them slip back into the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone.

Much of the criticism has been aimed at head coach Michael Appleton, who has yet to achieve a consistent run of good results after taking over in the summer.

But Hylton insisted the players should take the blame for failing to carry out his instructions, particularly in Saturday’s televised defeat.

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“The gaffer can’t protect us, he and the coaching staff give us everything,” he said.

“When we go over the white line it’s down to us and we’ve let them down too many times this season.

“Live on the cameras we’ve let them down big time.

“We as players need to start digging in and be stronger.

“We need to be wiser, work harder because we got outworked and outmuscled (at Cambridge).

“It’s something the gaffer or the coaching staff can’t teach, you’ve got to want it on the day.

“Even when they went 1-0 down they were better than us all over the pitch.”

While their hammering at the Abbey Stadium was much more one-sided than any of United’s other games this season, they have won just twice in a dozen games.

Hylton readily acknowledged it was not good enough.

He said: “We owe him 12 performances.

“It’s not been good enough and we need to start repaying what they give us.

“We need a big week. I know it’s a cliche, but we really need to knuckle down in training and be more focused than we have been.”

A response is desperately needed this weekend, or United are likely to fall to the bottom of the table.

They host Tranmere Rovers, who prop up the division and sacked their manager, Rob Edwards, yesterday, but would leapfrog the U’s with a win, and Hylton admitted they are in a scrap at the bottom.

He added: “At the minute yes, 12 games in the league table doesn’t lie.

“You can’t say it’s a false league now, we’ve had enough games now.

“We are down there and at the minute we are in a dogfight.

“We need to sort it out quickly and start, as a team, putting some results together.”

NIGEL Worthington yesterday resigned as manager of York City, who are third from bottom of Sky Bet League Two, after being in charge for 19 months.

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