KEITH Curle insists his players have got the stomach for the fight, with Latics going into tomorrow's home game with Port Vale back in the bottom two.

A run of just one win in seven League Two outings has given Oldham a mountain to climb in an already tough November.

Aside from two FA Cup games against Ipswich Town, which resulted in the League One side going through to a second round tie with Barrow after Tuesday night's replay, Latics play three of the current top four before the end of the month.

Port Vale are second on goal difference, ahead of Exeter City who are enjoying a club record unbeaten run and made it four wins on the spin against Curle's men last weekend, while a trip to fourth placed Northampton - Curle's former club - awaits them on Tuesday.

But Latics' head coach feels the overall performance they put in against Ipswich shows the level of commitment in his squad.

"There's fight in that changing room, because I'm in there. I won't accept fearful people because they won't get us out of the trouble that we're in," said Curle, who felt his side rose to the occasion on Tuesday.

"Have a look at the first half performance, we've given a very good team a very competitive encounter."

Asked if he felt it was the best they had played this term, he added: "I think for a more sustained period, yes, even though I still believe there's more to come.

"I've said a number of times I've been in this situation before and I know what's needed. I don't have fearful people around me.

"I don't accept fear. Fear's a mindset, fear's a mentality and I weed out people that are fearful because you get people then that don't want to make mistakes, people that take the easy option. I call them satnav players because a satnav is designed for shortcuts and I see players that take shortcuts. Sometimes a straight line to a tackle or somebody making an angle to go and get on the ball, there's no shortcut to that, make yourself available.

"And what you find is satnav players go on a different journey, jump on a different bus and go somewhere else. That's part of the fear factor in football that the players have to manage because I put demands on players and I see weaknesses and those players go.

"Come January, if people move out to further their career I wish them well. People that come in will be fully aware of what the expectations are and where we are and there's a job to be done here."

Latics remain restricted by a transfer embargo and will, like the summer transfer window, be limited to free agents and loan signings.

In the meantime, Curle has been working on the players' mentality as well as fitness and tactics ahead of another big League Two game.

"Positive mental attitude, a stoic philosophy which is about how you handle disappointments, not going into victim mode and how you plan your attacks," he said.

"In life in general, take it out of a football context, people have disappointments and it's about how you handle that disappointment.

"We're disappointed, we're not happy, but it's about having a mindset that to change we are in charge of our own fortunes and our own destiny.

"We're trying to enlighten, educate and open the mindset and show empathy with the players. I've been there, I've been a player that's been at the wrong end of the table putting in performances that aren't at the top level, but how do you deal with it?

"We know we're in a difficult position, but I know what it takes to get out of it. We need belief. If you haven't got belief you're going to fail, guaranteed.

"I believe that we will improve the league position that we're in now."