OXFORD United need to show leadership to turn their fortunes around before it is too late, says Cameron Brannagan.

The 21-year-old impressed during his long-awaited debut, but could not prevent a 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

It was a sixth loss in eight Sky Bet League One games for United, who are now only four points above the relegation zone.

The longer the slump goes on, the higher the stakes in the following game, which is at home to a resurgent Peterborough United on Saturday.

Brannagan acknowledged the side were putting pressure on themselves, but knows they are the only ones who can do anything about it.

He said: “We are, but when things aren’t going your way and players’ confidence is low then you need a leader to pick the team up.

“Everybody can’t be disheartened, we all need to get behind each other and help out.

“Because the minute our heads go down is when we start falling lower and lower. We don’t need that.”

He added: “We’re in the situation we’re in and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

“We’ve put ourselves in this situation and we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it.

“We can’t sit here and cry about it, because if we do we’ll go down and we don’t want that.

“We’ve got to stick together as a team and battle it out in training, work hard and come Saturday make sure we win, or if not at least get a draw.”

One obvious source of leadership would come from a new manager.

It is now 50 days since Pep Clotet was sacked and while owner Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth was believed to have met candidates over the weekend, the wait goes on for an appointment.

The uncertainty has not helped, but Brannagan believes first and foremost the players have to look at themselves, especially when it comes to Wimbledon’s soft winner on Saturday.

He said: “You can’t blame people, you’ve got to look at yourself.

“You can’t look at other people and say ‘it’s your fault’.

“At the end of the day, it’s an individual battle in the box, you’ve got to make sure you stay with your man and if not they can punish you.

“It’s not the manager’s fault, it’s a set-piece and we’re old enough to know it’s you versus him and that’s it.

“We need to look at it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”