Middlesbrough chief Tony Mowbray admits there may only be one automatic spot still up for grabs.
The Teessiders host lowly Bristol City having rekindled their own dreams with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at West Ham in midweek.
Southampton head into the weekend five points clear of Reading at the top, with the Hammers two points further adrift, although with a game in hand, while Boro in sixth are 10 points shy of the Royals.
Asked if the top two or three could be caught, Mowbray said: “In this league, you have got to be very careful of writing anything off because you have seen huge inconsistencies in the league, and some results which are hugely difficult to predict.
“I would be very wary of saying, ‘We can’t do this’, ‘We can’t do that’ because we have been through spells this season when we have won four or five on the bounce, and if we can hit that sort of form, you can hit a run like that, so I would never say ‘no’.
“It’s a strange league. We can only look at ourselves and we have got to find a terrific run of results to threaten the top three.
“You can’t see Southampton dropping enough points to not finish in the top two, but you never know. We just have to take each one as it comes, give it our best shot and see where it takes it.”
Boro have revealed figures which show chairman Steve Gibson is still bankrolling the club to the tune of £1m a month despite a cull of high earners, and Mowbray praised his players for remaining competitive. “Credit to them, they have been in that position all season and we have to ensure in the next nine games that we continue to be in there.”