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Fulham defender John Heitinga has banned the word ‘relegation’ being said anywhere near him – even in his native Dutch.

The Fulham defender refuses to throw in the towel on the club’s chances of escaping the drop despite the precarious situation staring the Whites in the face.

Heitinga and co venture to Aston Villa tomorrow in front of a sell-out 3,000 away section. Heartened by the travelling support, the team in trouble is only too aware they must winkle out points wherever they play over the last six games – and not just against the lesser sides in the division.

He said: “I know it’s sold out by our supporters at Villa. The fans believe and we believe – they’re great. We now need to show it on the pitch.

“Every game is a must-win now. I do not want to use that word, ‘relegation’. It is banned. Even in Dutch.”

Even so, the man who joined from Everton in January admits the silver lining behind the 3-1 defeat to Heitinga’s old team on Sunday is a clutch of games against lesser mortals of the Premier League, who are fighting for their lives like Fulham.

“It can be good for us,” said the defender. “But they are in the same situation that we are. It was disappointing against Everton and the Villa game is now immensely important. We will keep fighting.”