Rowan Vine is feeling claustrophobic, which is exactly what he expected when he agreed to join Birmingham City.
If the top of the Coca-Cola Championship table is rigid and taut, the fight for one of the two striking positions in the Blues team is equally tense.
Despite dropping two points when they drew 1-1 at home to Sunderland on Tuesday night, Birmingham's position improved the day after when Derby County, the leaders for the past five weeks, lost 2-0 at home to Stoke City.
This means that Birmingham have their destiny in their own hands, even though they occupy third position in the table — behind Derby and West Bromwich Albion.
Vine, who joined Blues from Luton Town in January, began the match against Sunderland on the substitutes' bench but emerged late on to supply the cross from which Dudley Campbell scored the last-minute equaliser.
Vine has no doubts that March is the month that will define Birmingham's season and he wants to play a significant part, even though he is one of five strikers — along with Campbell, Cameron Jerome, Nicklas Bendtner, and Mikael Forssell — chasing two positions in the starting line-up.
"It is a massive period for Birmingham," he said. "Over the next four or five weeks, we have got a lot of the big teams and a lot of six-pointers. Hopefully, we can nick our fair share of wins at home and go away and pick up a few points and it will sort itself out.
"The next four weeks is definitely a make-or-break period for us. Going into March, April, if it's tight at the top like it is, it's always going to be crunch time. If we can go on a run, we will be delighted to go into the back-end of the season on fire.
"Birmingham have this ability to bounce back and grind out results when necessary. I was on the receiving end when I was at Luton, being 2-1 up and Birmingham equalised right at the death.
"If we can grind a result out when we were probably dominated for the most part, then it is a good sign. Hopefully we can do that and nick a few more winners as well."
Vine has started two matches for Birmingham and has appeared in three more as a substitute. He has yet to score but feels as though, once he acquires a regular run in the team, he can prove to supporters he was worth a #2.5 million transfer fee.
"I have settled in fine," Vine said. "Results have been a bit off and on, but we are back on track and we will look forward to going up to Hull on Saturday.
"I am a little bit frustrated at being on the substitutes' bench. I came in and thought I'd done all right, but results didn't go our way so the manager has changed it and I've found myself on the bench for the last couple of games.
"It's part and parcel of football. It happens from time to time and I am going to work hard to try to get a starting place.
"It says a lot about the strength of the squad. There is a lot of quality and a lot of options going forward so I am not going to start complaining.
"There are a few strikers here. Mikael is coming back and he is looking sharp as well so hopefully whoever plays does the business and we get promoted. It is nice to have options."
Birmingham were largely outplayed by Sunderland and, under the circumstances, did well to secure a point. Indeed, the draw was celebrated by supporters like a victory, whereas the win against Stoke City at home on February 11 was tolerated as if it was a draw.
"We were unlucky, in the end, against Sunderland," Vine said. "We had a couple of chances when we were getting on top of them. It was just nice to get the equaliser.
"The first half was frustrating for us. They looked a really good side, the best team I have seen in the division all season. Dwight Yorke was excellent.
"It was a massive game and Sunderland are in good form and we would have been delighted to have got a win but the way the game panned out, we were happy to take a point.
"For the goal, I just tried to have a touch and slam it across the box. I knew there were a lot of bodies in there and DJ has got a nick and it has gone in off the defender. He is claiming it, but we will let him have his glory! It was pleasing to see it hit the net."