THEY might have dropped out of the play-off places for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, but John Obi Mikel insists it is much too early to be writing off Middlesbrough’s promotion hopes.

Boro travel to Swansea City this afternoon looking to reignite a play-off push that has stuttered badly in the wake of five successive defeats.

The most recent of those losses came at home to Bristol City on Tuesday night, and the dejected response of the Riverside crowd at the final whistle suggested many supporters have given up hope of returning to the Premier League.

Mikel understands the frustration, but is adamant is not too late to turn things around. The Championship tends to deliver some late twists and tales, and Boro could be back in the play-off positions tonight if they win at the Liberty Stadium and other results go their way.

“It’s bad, but it’s not the end of the world,” said the former Chelsea midfielder. “There are more games to play and things can change very quickly in this league.

“If you win one game, you are right back in it. We know that. If we keep doing things right, if we keep playing the way we have been and creating chances and start to score, it can change quickly. If we can just get a goal, then we can kick on.”

While Boro produced a desperate display in their last away game at Aston Villa, their last two home performances against Norwich and Bristol City were reasonably good, even though they failed to deliver any points.

The Teessiders spurned a number of good chances against Norwich, and were even more profligate as they passed up a succession of opportunities on Tuesday night.

Tony Pulis’ negative tactics have been a bone of contention all season, but Mikel insists Boro have attempted to adopt a positive outlook in recent games. And while a run of five successive defeats has inevitably taken a toll, the Nigerian maintains the mood within the dressing room is still positive.

“I think the confidence is still there,” he said. “The belief is still there. When you are not playing well and not creating chances AND not scoring goals, then obviously confidence would be very, very low. But that is not the case.

“We are playing higher up the pitch, playing on the front foot, and that is what we want to do. It is what the fans want us to do too.

“The fans don’t want us to sit back and lump it forward. I understand that if you do that, you might get lucky and get a goal, but the fans want us to play good, attacking football. That is what I think we have done in the last few games, we just need the goals to go with it.”