PHIL Brown has warned Swindon Town’s players that the desire to succeed has to come from within after admitting he detected issues with the mentality of the squad when he took charge last month.

Brown was openly scathing over elements of his side’s attitude, character and application during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Newport County, a loss that dealt a wounding blow to the club’s play-off prospects.

The former Hull City and Southend boss took up the reins in the wake of David Flitcroft’s departure to Mansfield with the club in the thick of the battle for the play-off positions and while that position has only slipped slightly in terms of the league table, the new boss has just one win from his seven matches in charge.

Brown though believes the club’s position on his arrival may have masked deeper problems and has warned he does not possess a magic wand, insisting that ultimately the players must find the will from within to achieve their goals.

“We came to a team that was on the edge of the play-offs, that had won 18 and lost 15 - and I found that statistic quite alarming,’’ said the manager.

“I've said this before to the lads here, if we had turned half of those defeats into draws - and that's the gumption and spirit and fighting desire that we're talking about to not get beat. Or if we win, we win, but if we lose, can we get something from the game?

“Little changes in people's mentality and their habits, they turn draws into wins and defeats into draws and that's what gets you promoted.

“Somebody lays a glove on us then we go under. If you were a boxer you wouldn't last too long, but if you're a team fighting for promotion you won't last too long either.’’

The boss has not attempted to hide his displeasure at some of the Town squad’s failings and admits the deficiencies are not a reflection of a side coached by Phil Brown, warning that players a dicing with their own futures by not stepping up to the plate.

“I think I've said this after a couple of games that you can't put in what God left out and it's such a true statement. How do you give somebody attitude and desire and the substance it takes to win a game of football?

“It's got to be from within. There are only a certain amount of things I can do.

“I know a lot of people will talk about the DNA of a football team being from the manager. I find that difficult to actually say this is my DNA. I've had the players for seven games and I haven't had a transfer window so they're not really my players.

“However, I will do everything I possibly can to get as much out of them over the next three games as I can. But when a centre-half won't put his head in in the six-yard box or the 18 yard box and young lads won't listen - I won't be specific there because at the end of the day they have got careers ahead of them - but when young lads don't want to listen, they have got to understand that I've been in the game for 40 years.

“I do know what I'm talking about and when I ask them to do something and demand that they do it and they don't do it, they are running the risk of coming off the field of play and possibly not playing for us again.

“But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We've got three games to go and nine points to play for and I'll keep going until the end.’’