ALLAN JOHNSTON admits that his Athletic side face some "huge games" before Christmas if they are to turn their faltering season around.

But he is confident that the attitude shown by his players, despite losing out to Ross County, can lead a revival as they look to arrest a run of just one win in their last six matches.

Defeat in Dingwall leaves the Pars in seventh place, seven points adrift of fourth-top Inverness Caledonian Thistle but, equally, just the same number clear of bottom side Falkirk.

They go into tomorrow's home clash with Greenock Morton having registered just one win at East End on league business, and having scored just twice in the process, and Johnston knows that poor record must change quickly.

He did, however, see plus points in their reverse to the title-chasing Staggies, having watched his side play with just 10 men for around 75 minutes after Kallum Higginbotham saw red for elbowing Stelios Demetriou, and commented: "I was delighted with their attitude and if you keep working like that, you'll start picking up points, but we need to start doing it soon.

"We haven't picked up enough points and I don't think the league table lies. We've got massive fixtures coming up against teams round about us, first and foremost against Morton at home. Never mind the fact that we've not had results at home; we've got to make sure we get a result.

"They're winnable games, even though they're all difficult, and it's a right opportunity for us to build a wee bit of momentum.

"It's an important period coming up.

"We need the boys to show the attitude and the desire they've shown to make sure we get the three points.

"We made it difficult for ourselves (on Saturday) with the sending off and the goals we lost - we know we've got to do better - but what I can't fault the boys for was the way they kept on going.

"For all the hard work the boys put in, I'm gutted they never got anything from it. For 75 minutes against, arguably, one of the best teams in the league away from home, the boys put in a shift and kept going right to the end."

Johnston will be without Higginbotham when the 'Ton come calling and he said that the winger "let everybody down" with his actions.

“He knows he’s let down his team-mates, the supporters and everybody,” he commented.

“It’s up to him when he comes back to make up for it and show how good a player he is, and to go and make an impact.

“I’ve spoken to him. I spoke to him on the bus to find out what happened because I didn’t see it, and then I’ve seen it over the weekend. The boy is pulling him and holding him, and I think he was nipping him, but there’s still no excuse for throwing an elbow.

“There’s a line and Higgy knows that. What he can’t have, and he’s said it himself, is to allow people to wind him up. He’s got to learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

On the injury front, Sean Murdoch travelled to Leeds yesterday for an operation on a groin tear, with Callum Smith, who broke his wrist on loan at Arbroath, has been given the all-clear to return to training.

Mark Durnan is continuing his recovery from groin surgery but, although Andy Ryan and Aidan Connolly have been struggling with hip and groin complaints respectively, midfielder Tom Beadling returned to full training on Monday.