Pards' Preview

Alan Pardew says that his squad is thoroughly prepared for the first play-off game in West Ham's history on Saturday.

"They are all ready and looking forward to it; it is obviously a big game with the usual tensions," he says.

"Everybody is in good heart and there is a nice spirit about the place so we are looking forward to it.

"I think both clubs have a tradition of playing football the correct way rather than being known for the physical side of it.

"Ipswich have been up and down a little bit, like ourselves, and we ended up one place above them which has given us an advantage that is obviously useful.

"All play-off games are tough, no matter who the opposition is; we have managed to finish fourth and the real meat of this competition starts.

"You have to make sure that you manage the 180 minutes correctly and have some sort of contingency plan if things don't go well.

"You plan the whole week and we have got a couple of ideas in mind if certain things go for us or if certain things go against us.

"That is all in place and it is a case now of making sure the players' energy levels are 100% - we will look forward to watching the first game on Friday night, and then playing our game on Saturday.

"We are always thorough and we have obviously played them twice, which helps.

"We have addressed the two games we have played against them and also their last game and I don't think there are too many surprises they can throw at us.

"But you never know in these type of games and we are just looking to give a really good account of ourselves in this first leg - and we will see what the second leg holds."

West Ham won at Portman Road early in the season then were beaten under Alan in December, and he recalls:

"There are a lot who played in that game who are playing at the weekend so there is something in it; we created a heck of a lot of chances at Upton Park and still managed to lose it.

"It was a game where I decided changes had to be made so it was a watershed in that respect.

"We think they have got some very good players and they have obviously got a very good manager.

"I have had my teams play against Joe a few times, I like him, and I think he sends his teams out in the right manner.

"I am a big fan of Joe's but hopefully the younger guy will win out!

"They have a good goal scoring record and we have to be wary of that - and they are good at set plays."

Alan is sad that so many loyal fans will not be able to be at Portman Road and he adds:

"Our army of fans who managed to get tickets will be travelling up but it is horrible that so many of our fans are missing out.

"It has been non-stop for myself and the players with tickets; it has been difficult but that is what happens when you get in these situations."

Alan is not concerned, though, with West Ham being the favourites and adds:

"There is no significance to it in this competition in my view; we are all on an even keel and usually over the two legs the best team wins - let's hope that is true and let's hope that it is us.

"We have got a nice blend of experience, youth, and energy, and hopefully it will come together on Saturday."

Rufus Brevett will be included in the party for Portman Road and Alan adds:

"Rufus has played again this week and I want him to have the confidence in his own mind that he is ready.

"He has done remarkably well even to have a chance of being in contention for a place, let alone playing.

"We are just trying to get him to the level of the other lads and to be fair he is not far away now."