SKIPPER Damian Welch says the Cross Keys players can’t let the club’s problems off the field affect them on the pitch as they strive to stay in the Principality Premiership.

Keys appealed for help earlier this week in the hope of raising £20,000 to see them through to the end of the season.

Their financial problems come just as Welch and his men look like they are heading for relegation following three successive 50-point hammerings.

The top flight is being cut from 16 teams to 12 next term and as many as five sides could go down to the Championship.

With five games left, Keys sit two from bottom in the Premiership table, 14 points shy of guaranteed safety.

Defeat at Llandovery tomorrow (kick-off 2.30pm) and wins for the sides immediately above them would pile even more pressure on the Pandy Park outfit.

Giving his take on the situation Keys find themselves in, captain Welch said: “It’s a struggle, and performances and results haven’t helped.

“Unfortunately, Welsh rugby is going through a bit of a change and it’s dripping down to the feeder clubs.

“It’s a very difficult time and everyone has got to deal with it. Everyone is trying to be upbeat and do their best, that’s all we can do really.”

He added: “It would be stupid to say that the club’s situation off the field hasn’t affected the players at all.

“But other clubs like Pontypridd have had problems off the field and are still doing well on the pitch.

“Although it affects the players, we just play and train, the other stuff is more to do with the chairman and the board. All we can do is get to the end of the season and then assess where we go from there.”

Looking ahead to Llandovery, he said: “We knew coming into the run-in we had to face some of the top teams, and we know it’s going to be a really tough challenge.

“It’s important the boys go out there and express themselves, and don’t go into their shells and let off the field issues affect them.”