GARY LOCKE says that saving Cowdenbeath from the drop would rival anything he has achieved in management so far.

The Blue Brazil boss heaped praise on his players for keeping their survival hopes alive with Saturday’s 3-0 thumping of Stirling Albion, which he believes is “the best we’ve played since I took over”.

Locke, who earlier this week distanced himself from talk linking him with the Dundee job, has sensed a renewed confidence within the camp and urged his men to continued to believe in themselves when title-chasing Arbroath come calling this weekend.

“When I came in I tried to improve on one or two things, relax and organise the players and encourage them to believe in themselves,” he told Times Sport.

“Confidence plays a big part and, probably like Liam Fox, I was puzzled about why we’re in the position we’re in when you look at the squad we’ve got.

"But over the last few weeks I’ve sensed their confidence is coming back and Saturday was the best we’ve played since I took over.

"I can’t speak highly enough of the boys with the pressure that was on them, especially as we had to win when you look at other results.

“When I came in I knew confidence was at an all-time low; we hadn’t won in 2017.

"I got painted a pretty bleak picture but that’s why I took the job – I like a challenge and I know the chairman well.

“We now have a wee chance, although we know we’ve got three tough games coming up. I’ve definitely seen a lift over the last 2-3 weeks and that only comes with results, and I think anybody connected with Cowdenbeath can see that.

"If we can stay in the league it’d be a major achievement and would be up there with anything I’ve achieved so far.”

With Forfar, who head the table by a point from Saturday’s visitors, and promotion play-off hopefuls Elgin City to play after Saturday, Locke knows jumping off the basement and avoiding the pyramid decider won’t be easy but continued: “When we came in it looked like we’d finish in the play-off, so to have a chance is testament to the hard work of the players.

"We need to try and win our last three games and they don’t come any tougher than against Arbroath and Forfar (in Cowden’s next two), but we’re at home and have to go into them in a confident frame of mind.

"I hope there will also be some pressure on them but we have just got to look after ourselves.”

Cowden will be without the suspended Kris Renton this weekend – which Locke admitted was a “huge blow” – but otherwise has no selection issues.

He added: “We had a great support at Stirling on Saturday and they got right behind the side. We had a few more numbers than we usually get and it’d be great to have that again this week.”