Kevin sweet on promotion

KEVIN Horlock is looking to capture his fifth promotion and admits this would be the sweetest one yet.The cultured left-footed midfielder has won championship medals with Swindon and Manchester City and also played a huge role in getting Joe Royle's City side promoted via the Division Two play-offs and then going up to the Premiership in second place.

By Derek Davis

KEVIN Horlock is looking to capture his fifth promotion and admits this would be the sweetest one yet.

The cultured left-footed midfielder has won championship medals with Swindon and Manchester City and also played a huge role in getting Joe Royle's City side promoted via the Division Two play-offs and then going up to the Premiership in second place. But the 30-year-old admits, if Town succeed at Brighton tomorrow or via the knock-out stage, then it would be the best of the bunch.

Horlock said: “At this stage of my career it is exactly why I came here to Ipswich. I wanted to be involved in a promotion fight. If it does happen, it would be the sweetest because it is the latest one.”

After joining last season's play-off finalists West Ham, Horlock is delighted at his choice to change and is relishing a second season at Portman Road.

He said: “It would be nice to play in the Premiership but, most of all, I want to be a part of this squad and this team. I'm chuffed to bits that I came here. Some people may think, because I'm not involved every week, it has become a bad move but that is not the case.

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“I have started 34 games and I have played my part in where we are. I have certainly played a lot more games than I would have done at West Ham. So I'm pleased to be here and hope I can play a small part in a promotion-winning side again.”

Although he has yet to score, Horlock has assisted in a good percentage of goals and he has been popular in the dressing room with his acerbic wit.

With so much promotion experience, Horlock is ideally placed to understand the pressure and feelings the players have been going through this week.

He said: “It is always the same when you get to this stage of the season and you are within touching distance of promotion.

“It is exciting but we also know there is a lot of hard work to be done. Everyone seems to see Brighton as an easy win but it will be far from that.

“I have seen it before in the past and it is never like that, because they are fighting for their lives and it could turn out to be our toughest game of the year.

“There are a few lads who have been here before so I won't need to say anything. The only advice I could give is to enjoy it, don't be nervous of it and I'm sure they won't be.

“We have good players here who believe in themselves and will give a good account of themselves and get what we are looking for.”

The former Northern Ireland international has also warned that even a small crowd like the one at relegation-threatened Brighton will be hyper-active, as scores from Wigan, Crewe and Nottingham affect both clubs.

He said: “That has happened in the past and it is hard. It is difficult to ignore but you need to focus on the game. It is the last day of the season and the crowd are going to react to scores from around the country.

“We have to try and put that out of our mind and concentrate on the job in hand.”

Even though Horlock has acquaintances at Reading, he has not been in contact as he knows it would be inconsequential.

Royals' midfielder Andy Hughes' mum and dad lived opposite him in Manchester and Horlock provided the ball for Shaun Goater to score and consign Town to the play-offs in 2000.

He said: “The game at Wigan is not in our hands and we can't take any notice of it. We are relying on Reading to do us a massive favour but, first things first, and that is to win our game.”

If Reading beat Wigan they could pip West Ham or Derby to a play-off place but Horlock is ambivalent about who sneaks into sixth spot.

As a Hammer's fan as a kid, and who played there twice, the first time when he was in the same youth side as Matt Holland and Darren Currie, it may be something he has to face as from Monday.

Horlock said: “I'm not bothered about West Ham but, if we have to deal with the play-offs, then we will when we have to.”

Big match preview - Pages 70&71

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