Rufus Reckons...

Rufus Brevett does not expect to be involved at Cardiff on Saturday - despite making it to the bench for the second Ipswich game last week.

Rufus, who has returned to fitness after his well-documented injury problems, has been tipped by some to make a dramatic return to action at left back for the last game of the season, but Rufus reveals:

"It is a massive game for the club - but I don't think I will be playing.

"The lads that played last week were fantastic, so I don't think there is much need to mess about with the team.

"But it is just nice to be involved again.When you are out for near enough a season I think it is a test of your character. The manager has been fantastic and tried to keep me involved as much as he can.

"When you are injured that long you can be forgotten about."

And become bitter?

"I think I have gone past that," he shrugs, "though with the injury it was originally four months, then it was a whole season - so a bit of that did creep in.

"But there is nothing you can do about that, it is football, and part of the job.

"You just have to come through the bad times as well as the good times."

Hayden Mullins currently occupies the left full back slot which has also had Tomas Repka, Wayne Quinn, Jon Harley, and Anton Ferdinand in the role.

"It has not really been my shirt," says Rufus, "because I have only really had it for two games this season.

"But, wherever he plays, you can rely on Hayden - he can adapt to any position and he has got that in his make-up.

"I thought he was fantastic against Ipswich the other day and Anton has done well there as well."

Rufus, after last playing for the first team in August, was boosted by being on the bench for the second Ipswich game, and he adds:

"Just to run on the pitch again and have a kick around in front of over 35,000 fans was lovely.

"Obviously, with the injury, I didn't think it would be this season that anything like happened, but I have done quite well and it was nice to be on the bench."

As for his thoughts on Saturday's game, Rufus adds:

"It is a difficult one; there is no doubt in my mind that we are the better team but it is a one-off game, a playoff final, and anything can happen.

"But if we go out and do our job I think we will win the game - I have said all along that if we get in the playoffs we will go up.

"We got the place buzzing the other evening and it was just one of those great nights - and hopefully we can have another good day on Saturday.

"I have played in an FA cup semi-final, and the atmosphere that Tuesday was better.

"We were 1-0 down, we had to score two goals, and they hit the post in the last minute; it was unbelievable stuff, and great entertainment - I think even the Ipswich fans would have gone away thoroughly entertained.

"We know that it is a massive game for the club in Cardiff after a long, hard season and the lads have put a lot of hard work in.

"It is okay getting to finals and people say 'at least you took part' - but it is about winning.

"We know we have got to win the game, and I am sure that we will do that.

"Palace are going to be no easy touch and Iain Dowie is going to get them wound up - but it is there to be won."

Rufus feels that senior players such as himself now appreciate the talents of the younger players that Alan Pardew has brought in, and adds:

"I think there is a good blend; the manager has bought some very, very good young players who have played their part this season - every one of them.

"He has obviously bought them with an eye on the Premiership - and I am sure those players are looking to step up to that next level.

"Hopefully, with a bit of experience in the team as well we can help them along."

As Alan Pardew has intimated, however, that respect was not instant, and Rufus agrees:

"You don't get it straight away; they have come in, knuckled down, trained and worked.

"A few of them are a bit cocky but that is their personality!

"But it is good and everyone gets on well - we are all enjoying it but we have got there to the final and now we have to finish it off.

"There is a lot of respect throughout the squad and the team."

As for his own future, Rufus says:

"I feel good and I would like to play as long as possible; you just don't know, but you just go as long as you can and want to."

And more immediately?

"We have about four weeks off so I will take a couple of weeks' holiday and then be back earlier than the others, trying to catch up on a bit of fitness.

"Hopefully we won't have lost so much fitness with it being a short break so preseason won't be so hard..."