Gary Mills says Gateshead must target at least three wins from their next four games if they are to reach the play-offs.
The Tynesiders are 10th in the table after one win in their last six matches, and two from 10.
Mills believes Luton Town, Cambridge United and Alfreton Town have made the top three their own, leaving just two play-off places available.
But after a solid spell of a victory and two draws against Barnet, Forest Green Rovers and Salisbury City respectively, the Heed are only two points behind fifth-placed Kidderminster Harriers.
And with today’s visit to the International Stadium of 12th-placed Lincoln City beginning a run of three out of the next four games at home, Mills says it is a crucial spell.
“I said before we went to Barnet and Salisbury that if we could pick up four points then it’d give us a great chance, with three out of four at home now,” he said.
“So the next four games are going to dictate where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do.
“Lincoln are the in-form team at the moment, they’ve had a lot of wins of late and they’re sitting only three points behind us now.
“But if we’re good enough, if we’re going to do it, the games against them, Braintree (Town) and Tamworth at home are ones we should win.
“Aldershot away, we can go and pick up something there as well.
“So it’s in our hands, we’re in there. It’s a time I’m going to enjoy. The challenge ahead is a great one to be involved in.
“If someone had said to me when I came in September that this would be the situation, I’d have said ‘Yeah, I’ll take that’.
“The challenge is there.”
Today’s challenge may be met without the suspended Marcus Maddison, the injured Colin Larkin and Liam Hatch and James Brown, who has been ill, though Carl Magnay could return.
Mills added: “We’re down to the last nine games and the league is incredible.
“Turn that draw into a win last week and we’d be in the top five. We didn’t and we’re sitting 10th. That’s the difference at the moment.
“We’re in the mix, we’re in with a chance but we’re going to need a win on Saturday to enable us to stay in there.
“We’ve had a few too many draws of late, we haven’t won enough matches.
The fact that we’re still there shows how well we’d done leading up to that. But we need to win quite a few of the matches that are left to get into the play-offs. But it can be done.”