Joe doesn't want to know the score

THE fans, the press, and no doubt the directors' box may keep a close on ear out for what is going on at Coventry, Wigan and Preston tomorrow but the dug-out doesn't want to know.

THE fans, the press, and no doubt the directors' box may keep a close on ear out for what is going on at Coventry, Wigan and Preston tomorrow but the dug-out doesn't want to know, writes Derek Davis.

While we all sweat, Blues boss Joe Royle has told his players to worry about one thing – winning and the rest will take care of itself.

Victory over Cardiff will ensure Town a top six spot while a draw would be enough if Palace lose at Highfield Road and Sheffield United don't beat Preston by more than three clear goals.

Royle said: "It is totally unimportant to know what is going on in games elsewhere. The sides behind us might need to know but we know if we win our game we are there and that is all we are thinking about.

"We won't bother looking at different permutations because hopefully it won't matter. If we are still level with 10 minutes to go then I may start asking but I hope I won't need to."

Calmness has been the watchword all week at Portman Road and the training centre at Playford Road as Royle's experience takes over – he has seen it all before on the final day of the season.

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He recalls: "At Manchester City we needed to win at Stoke to stay up, and any one of three home sides to win, they all lost but we won and that was enough, so it was better we didn't know what was going on at other grounds until the final whistle."

In 2000 City won at Blackburn 4-1 to pip Ipswich, who also won on the last day, and went up via the play-offs.

Royle remembers: "I still don't know how we beat Blackburn, they hit the post about four times yet we still won."

It was a similar story at Oldham when he took the Latics up on the last day in 1991 and he has an inscribed watch to remind him.

He said: "I'm dyslexic when it comes to dates, (checking watch) yeah 1991."

City have nothing to play for apart from pride, a top-10 finish and a few players needing new contracts.

It is the first time since 1998 they have gone to the last day without nerves as relegation, promotion and play-offs have dominated the roller-coaster club.

But there will still be two veteran managers locking horns and Royle has respect for former Luton boss Lennie Lawrence.

He said: "Lennie has had more than 1,000 games as a manager and his sides have always played football. He has been successful without ever getting a bite at the big-time which is a bit puzzling.

"He steadied things at Cardiff and then took them on. They threatened to make the play-offs for a long time but in the end were probably the first team to be safe from the drop and not a threat to the play-offs at the same time.

"Cardiff are a club on the move and with Sam Hamman's backing and the sort of support they can attract, they will be big players in this division again. I'm sure Lennie will be saying to his players 'who wants to be part of this next year?'. They will be looking to take the next step and are already starting to release players which shows their intent."

Town's preparation has been helped by an injury free week and the same starting side as the one at Sheffield United is expected to line up with Dean Bowditch's pace preferred up front alongside Darren Bent.

Tommy Miller has been cleared to play. Others have all recovered from minor knocks. Chris Bart-Williams has taken part in two reserve game this week to up his fitness and is likely to be on the bench tomorrow.

Ticket news

* The game is a virtual sell out with more than 29,000 tickets already sold, although Cardiff City returned 500 of their 2,800 allocation. No cash turnstiles will be open tomorrow and supporters will only be able to buy remaining tickets up until noon today from the Constantine Road ticket office. 01473 400555.

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