PAUL TURNBULL insists Chester’s under-performing players ‘do care’ about their current plight and retains the belief the Blues can survive.

Marcus Bignot’s side have faced stinging criticism from the Blues’ faithful over the past fortnight following demoralising defeats to Halifax and Guiseley, but did at least restore some pride in their performance in the reverse fixture at Guiseley on New Years’ Day, despite conceding an injury-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

That point leaves the Blues eight adrift of safety, but Turnbull believes the players displayed much-needed fighting spirit, and revealed a ‘heated exchange’ took place in the changing room post-match at Nethermoor Park.

“I wish you’d seen the changing room after the game, those who have said it doesn’t matter or we’re not hurting,” the Handforth-born midfielder said.

“A few words were said, a heated exchange or two, but that’s what it needs from time to time.

“It got heated in there, senior players had their say but we were absolutely gutted not to have seen the game out.

“We had chances to put the game to bed but we haven’t taken our chances. We had a bit of bad luck with the goal being disallowed and a penalty appeal for handball turned down, I thought that was pretty blatant.

“But we’ve only got ourselves to blame because we were punished at the end for only being 1-0 up.

“We spoke about it before and after the game, whether we have the belief.

“The gaffer sat us down and asked everyone of us do we believe we can stay up and every man said yes.

“There’s been words exchanged and some home truths but we still think we can do it. You look around at the players we’ve got and we shouldn’t be in the position we’re in.”

Asked if the players have the fight in them to get out of trouble, the

28-year-old replied: “I can definitely guarantee you that.

“You only have to look at Monday, we were on it from the first minute and we showed we care.

“At Halifax the boys were never at it, it was very disappointing, and the fans have every right to have their say when we play that badly.

“But I think the fans, they’re a very fair bunch, and those who travelled to Guiseley saw a group of players who do care.”

Turnbull, who has struggled for game-time ever since picking up a one-match ban for a fifth booking of the campaign at Bromley in mid-November, continued: “On a personal note it was good to be back on the pitch.

“It’s been a frustrating time for myself, but I thought I did okay and as a team we played much better, it’s just gutting to not get the win, but we had a bit more experience in there and it helped.

“I’d like to be fitter but that’s just a lack of match practice.”

Next up for Chester is a tricky trip to Ebbsfleet United on Saturday, last season’s National League South play-off winners who are acquitting themselves well in non-league’s top tier and lie 10th.

“Clearly we need to start picking up a lot of points and quickly,” Turnbull added. “The gaffer has told us he believes in us but we have to prove it.

“Ebbsfleet is a must-win game. They are all must-win games now, we have to take that attitude onto the pitch every time we play.

“It won't be easy, they have a good side, but we’ve got to focus on that now. The gaffer gave us a break (on Tuesday) to freshen us up and I just hope we can go down to Ebbsfleet now and bring three points back with us.”