By Tony Leighton
Scunthorpe United are facing an uphill battle to avoid relegation and midfielder Niall Canavan, who has been at Glanford Park since his early teens, is hoping that the npower League 1 club can somehow avoid the yo-yo effect that has seen them switch between divisions with regularity in recent seasons.
Since their promotion from League 2 in 2005 the Iron have twice climbed to Championship level, only to fall back down to League 1 on each occasion. And now, five points adrift of the safety places with only two games remaining, a return to the basement division is looking an ominous prospect.
"The club was in League 1 when I arrived here," 22-year-old Canavan told football-league.co.uk. "It was a year or two after we came up from League 2 and just as we were going up to the Championship. So I've seen us go up, come down, go back up, and then come back down again.
"I've been around for a lot of that and it must be draining for a lot of people around the club, always involved in these battles. When you're involved in promotion you always have that little extra buzz, but it can be draining to be constantly around the relegation fight and that's something we have to address."
In order to survive, Scunthorpe not only have to win their last two games, against promotion hopefuls Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday and Swindon Town a week later, but they also have to hope that one of the two clubs immediately above them - Colchester United and Oldham Athletic - lose each of their remaining fixtures.
Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Canavan said: "Our last two games will be tough, but we always knew it would be a difficult run-in. Against the better teams in the division though, we've tended to match them. We've said all year that we can match anyone in this division, there's no real stand-out team.
"We think we've got enough quality in the team and in the squad that we shouldn't be in this position, we should be well clear. But it's all about fine margins and we've maybe not been good enough at either end of the pitch all season - not taken enough chances and given too many soft goals away.
"As a group of lads we're obviously very disappointed, we don't want to be down here, but we've two games to do whatever we can about it. We'll be scrapping all the way to the end because nobody wants a relegation on their CV. To be part of a team that gets relegated, that's not a nice feeling."
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