Last chance for Jim?

JIM Magilton goes in to tonight's crucial clash at Sheffield United knowing it could be his last chance of a crack at the Premiership.

JIM Magilton goes in to tonight's crucial clash at Sheffield United knowing it could be his last chance of a crack at the Premiership, writes Derek Davis.

While the Blues skipper believes the younger players should live for the day, he knows the next defeat could be the game that ends his dream of another stint in the top flight.

Magilton turns 35 next Thursday and has already served time in the Premiership with Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich and takes a philosophical approach to the opportunity of a return.

He said: "I see this as the next opportunity and what is important for now. You might never be in this position again to shape what is possible.

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"As you get older then you tend to worry about the repercussions and the whys and wherefores.

"You spend time going over things in your head about what it all means whereas as a young player you go out there and try and enjoy the situation and give all you have got."

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The skipper also accepts the need to protect the younger squad members.

He added: "They have had a full season now and they know what it is about.

"When you are at that age it is just another game of football and that is the best way. Wasn't it Ted Roosevelt who once said the only thing to fear is fear itself? Well that is the thing for these lads.

"The more we can take the pressure off them the better. The senior pros take all the worry away and let the young lads go out there and do what they do so well.

"The manager does a great job of that anyway. He is very relaxed and tends to shoulder most things anyway."

Defeat would virtually end either team's hopes of a top-six finish; although Town could possibly afford a draw it would be a risky strategy.

Magilton said: "It is a game we have to get something from, we certainly can't afford to lose.

"Even the last game will be tricky as Cardiff have nothing to play for and so will be relaxed. All the pressure will be on us."

Town's inconsistent form has cost them dear already this season but Magilton promises whatever happens, there will no lack of commitment.

He said: "We will need to be resilient because they are a decent side at home. So we need to go to Bramall Lane with the attitude 'over our dead bodies will you beat us'. We can't be beaten."

Like Shefki Kuqi, Willie Donachie and Chris Bart-Williams, Magilton has a reason for Blades fans to hate him – they all have Sheffield Wednesday connections – but that won't affect him.

He said: "It has not even entered my head, it won't bother me in the slightest."

In fact, it will act as a gee-up for the Town players who beat United 3-0 at Portman Road in November.

Magilton added: "Bramall Lane is suited to our game. It is a big pitch and we have the two young lads who are quick and can exploit that space.

"It is a fantastic place for us to go and we have had some good battles with them before.

"The pressure is on them because they have to win the game in order to get in the play-offs, whereas we could come away with a draw knowing three points at home against Cardiff could be enough.

"It will be an entertaining game between two good football teams having a right go at each other.

"It will be interesting to see who comes out on top."

And the team that does gets one more chance to take that step towards the biggest show in town.

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