Another Strong Squad

With no major injuries from Sunday's trip to Wigan, Alan Pardew has another strong squad for the first of the playoff games against Ipswich.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Ipswich still had thousands of tickets unsold for the game at Portman Road going into the last day of sale.

Rufus Brevett, although in the squad, is unlikely to be risked but Steve Lomas, who has been ill, should be okay.

Mark Clattenburg from Northumberland will referee the first leg, with Neale Barry from Scunthorpe looking after the second.

Clattenburg has shown 99 yellow cards and two red in 32 matches this season.

Barry, who has not refereed Town since the 2-0 away win at Watford last season, has shown 94 yellow and six red cards in 33 games during 2003/04.

Alan Pardew insists that fear will not be a factor and explains:

"I have no worries my team will 'freeze' - purely because of what we've experienced at Upton Park this season and the expectations when we travel away.

"This game won't put us under any more pressure than any league game we've had this season and the beauty of it is we've played under pressure all year - it's a lot easier for us because we've had this type of game all year.

"The guys and all the staff have had a difficult season, but, for me, the playoffs were my minimum requirement and we have a chance of winning.

"Barring a bad result at Ipswich our stadium, which is a very, very difficult place to play in, will be jumping on Tuesday and that's a daunting prospect for any team - Ipswich are in for a tough time."

Alan has been involved in the playoffs twice with Reading, losing in the second division Final against Walsall in 2001 and the first division semi-finals against Wolves last season.

"I've been in them twice and I haven't had much luck - though I don't believe in luck, really.

"There are certain areas I've looked at this time and it is important you learn from your experiences -a few of which I have shared with the players.

"I had a few one-on-ones this week because I feel that's important - all players need to be stimulated to play at their best, and we've got players here like Michael Carrick and Steve Lomas who've played in big games.

"We had a big blip around the time of the Millwall game, which was the first time some of my players experienced a downturn; they've learned from that - and grown.

"There's an acceptance now from the older players of the younger ones, and a respect from the younger ones towards the older ones which wasn't there before it is a nice blend and there's a good spirit.

"It's been a year of great change following the disappointment of relegation and we're not in this competition to say we've done well - we are in it to win it."

SQUAD: Bywater, Srnicek, Melville, Dailly, Lomas, Hutchison, Carrick, Ferdinand, Reo-Coker, Mullins, Horlock, McAnuff, Nowland, Etherington, Deane, Zamora, Harewood, Cohen, Brevett, Connolly, Repka.