Giles White surveyed another chastening day for his Hampshire troops but told them: You can still dig yourselves out of trouble.
Injuries to Simon Jones and Dominic Cork added further woe for Hants as they battle to save themselves from a heavy defeat in their Championship division one opener against Durham at the Rose Bowl.
Jones was forced off the field during the third day of play yesterday with a groin problem after bowling just nine balls. He is expected to be out for two weeks.
Cork suffered a similar injury but could yet recover to play in the trip to Nottinghamshire later this week, with his injury not thought to be as serious as his team-mate.
If Hampshire are to go into that game in a positive frame of mind, though, Cork’s side will need to produce a heroic rearguard action and bat all day today if they are to save themselves from defeat to Durham, who ruthlessly put them to the sword yesterday.
Hampshire were able to add just 14 runs to their overnight score of 280 for six in reply to Durham’s mammoth 473 first innings as Ben Stokes grabbed six for 68.
And the visitors then cruised to 310 for three – with Stokes hammering 135 not out with the bat and smashing Liam Dawson for five sixes in one over – before declaring to set Hampshire an unlikely 490 to win.
But there was a glimmer of hope for survival as Jimmy Adams (47 not out) and Dawson (35 not out) steered Hampshire to 87 without loss by the close of play.
White, however, knows his men will need to produce something special to avoid defeat on the final day.
The Hampshire manager said: ‘We are in a situation now where we are looking to save the game.
‘We’ve had a good start to the second innings but there is a lot of hard work to be done.
‘We’ve got to play very well but we’ve got the players to do it. Hopefully, we can see out the day.
‘It’s always tough to bat a whole day.
‘But you have to take it ball by ball and session by session.
‘If we can do it, it will be a great achievement.’
The squad was already carrying injuries before the campaign started and White revealed that Jones will now face a period on the sidelines.
He said: ‘Jones has got a groin problem and he’s very disappointed.
‘It might be a couple of weeks out and we’re all disappointed, but life goes on.
‘We’ve had a few injuries along the way and we will be looking to get him back as quick as possible.
‘No injury is ever good news, but at least it looks like a short period out.
‘Corky had some stiffness in the groin as well but we’re confident he will be okay for Nottinghamshire.’