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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Jones: Pressure on for play-off sides

Cardiff manager Dave Jones insists there is nothing to choose between the four teams jostling for Championship play-off glory and a lucrative spot in next season's Premier League.

The Bluebirds travel to Leicester tomorrow for the first leg of their semi-final while Nottingham Forest were at Blackpool today, with the return encounters taking place in midweek.

Nine points separated third-placed Forest from Ian Holloway's Blackpool side in sixth.

Cardiff, buoyed by their highest league finish for almost 40 years and the recent confirmation of investment from the Far East, are keen to make history by becoming the first team from outside England to play in the top-flight.

And while he hopes it will be City, Jones insists picking a winner to triumph in the world's richest game of football at Wembley on May 22 is too tough to call.

"I think all four clubs are like everybody else," he said.

"We've all got good quality players, we've all had our really good games and we've had our mediocre and poor games.

"Everybody will be trying to play it down. There is pressure, nobody can get away from that.

"It's all right Ollie (Holloway) saying 'we've got there so now we've got nothing to lose', of course you have. You've got Premier League status to lose."

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson welcomes Cardiff to the Walkers Stadium believing previous meetings and form will count for little in the Midlands.

The two clubs have met three times already this season, with each winning their home game during the regular Championship campaign, while Cardiff were again victorious hosts in the FA Cup fourth round clash in January.

Meanwhile, Leicester have won their past five matches and Cardif's final-day defeat at Derby, where Jones made nine changes and rested key players, halted a 10-game unbeaten streak.

Pearson said: "Psychologically, the games this season will mean nothing. But they will help both clubs in the way that we prepare for these two games.

"People will also look for indicators in the league form of how teams are playing, but it all boils down to dealing with these two matches.

"In any big game, the tactics and formations are one thing but ultimately it is how you deal with the occasion. That is crucial," added the Foxes' boss.

"The Championship play-offs are potentially a three-game cup competition now."

Leicester City v Cardiff City

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