Mowbray calls for calm

EXPERIENCED coach Tony Mowbray insists the Blues' players must not get too het up about today's play-off clash with West Ham, writes Derek Davis.A virtual sell out of almost 30,000 will be roaring Town on in their first leg but Mowbray, who won promotion via the play-offs with Ipswich and Middlesbrough, is hoping the Blues' dressing room will be an oasis of tranquillity.

EXPERIENCED coach Tony Mowbray insists the Blues' players must not get too het up about today's play-off clash with West Ham, writes Derek Davis.

A virtual sell out of almost 30,000 will be roaring Town on in their first leg but Mowbray, who won promotion via the play-offs with Ipswich and Middlesbrough, is hoping the Blues' dressing room will be an oasis of tranquillity.

While everyone else will be on a knife-edge, Mowbray is confident if the players do what they are capable of they will come out on top over the two legs.

Town are well aware of the dangers the Hammers pose but with top scorer Darren Bent leading the attack, Mowbray knows Alan Pardew's men will have plenty to fret over as well.


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He said: "West Ham will be worrying about what we can do and what we are good at. They will be thinking about 'how do we stop that player? What do we do about Bent's pace?'."

The nerves were palpable at Portman Road last Sunday when Cardiff tried to wreck the party but in the end a draw was enough. Now comes a new set of tension.

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Part of Mowbray's job is to keep things calm. He said: "We try and make the build-up as relaxed as possible. There is enough pressure, enough tension without everyone else building it up. The ideal situation is that the dressing room is quiet and composed just before kick off. You don't need a lot of shouting and screaming going on. Fist clenching and that sort of thing is just a waste of nervous tension before you get out there.

"In a mundane game against say, Walsall or Bradford, teams we should be beating, then that is different. You want players geed up, shouting and getting up for the game because that is when they need to be heightening their senses.

"For these games I want to see players quiet and thoughtful and go out and play as they know they can, show awareness to make the right decisions."

Both teams have virtually full-strength teams to choose from, although the Hammers are likely to make just one change from the side which drew at Wigan last week with fit-again Rufus Brevett coming in for Anton Ferdinand.

Brevett took part in a behind- closed-doors game on Thursday and may be risked instead of Ferdinand, brother of Rio, who has been playing out of position.

Ipswich are likely to go with Dean Bowditch up front to partner Bent, although Shefki Kuqi will be hoping to keep his place after scoring against Cardiff last week.

Tommy Miller has bounced back from injury again after suffering a bruised foot, while fellow midfielder Chris Bart-Williams will be on the bench after recovering from a back problem.

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