(Reuters) - Midfielder Gareth Barry has acknowledged that Everton's pursuit of a Premier League top-four finish are all but over and that beating Manchester City in this week's League Cup semi-final is needed to get fans back on board.
Sunday's 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City left Everton 12th in the table, 13 points adrift of the top four, but the team will be looking to recover quickly when they travel to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday with a 2-1 lead from the first leg.
"The top four is going to be really tough," Barry told the Liverpool Echo. "If we are going to set a target, then the top six is more realistic.
"The players are aware the fans are frustrated but it is down to us to play through that."
For Barry, Wednesday's game offers a chance to bring back the feel-good factor and breathe some life into Everton's faltering campaign.
"We have big games coming up in cup competitions. We focus on a huge game against Man City and hopefully we can get the fans positive again and then return to the league," he said.
"In an ideal world, going into a game like Wednesday would be with a win.
"There is nothing better than going into games on a winning run, when you are feeling confident, but that's where we are at the moment. We have got to go into a League Cup semi-final on the back of a defeat."
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien