Who will win the play-offs?

WE may not be there but all Ipswich Town followers will be watching closely to see who goes up in the play-offs, and who stay to meet the Blues again next season.

Derek Davis

WE may not be there but all Ipswich Town followers will be watching closely to see who goes up in the play-offs, and who stay to meet the Blues again next season. DEREK DAVIS gives his views on the Coca Cola Championship play-offs and looks at who could come up from League One.

IT is not just for pure footballing reasons why it may be better for a certain club to be promoted for Ipswich fans with travel and tradition playing its part in their bias.

Shefki Kuqi didn't get the dream end to the season he wished for, although he was so close to fulfilling his promise of one more celebratory swallow dive only to be robbed by a linesman.

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The flying Finn won't be allowed to help Crystal Palace get into the premiership either as he is still contracted to the Blues until the end of this month and Neil Warnock has made it plain he doesn't want him back, even though he has a year left on his current contract at Selhurst Park.

Palace take on Bristol City today and what an intriguing battle that will be.

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Warnock is in his element in these sorts of do-or-die games and over two legs should be too strong physically and mentally for the Robins.

Gary Johnson, who cut his managerial the in Suffolk and was a regular at Portman Road picking up coaching tips during the Robson era, has done a brilliant job at Ashton Gate but it appears City have run out of steam and their inability to defend, while not scoring much will work against them.

It is also probably that City will slip away next season and not be a side that Town will have to contend with at the top end, whereas Palace under Warnock will be a danger.

Geographically Palace is closer but always a nightmare to get to, while Bristol may be a couple of hours further to travel but a more enjoyable trip, although results for Town at Selhurst Park have been better. It was one of only three places Ipswich won at this season.

Hull City's display against Ipswich on the final day of the regular season may not have been particularly inspiring, they were second best to a determined Town side, but they finished the season pretty strongly to come from nowhere to finish third.

That is in sharp contrast to opponents Watford who they face tomorrow and Aidy Boothroyd will have his work cut out getting his team motivated.

It is almost as if the players were so scarred by their last sojourn to the Premier League, subconsciously they don't want to go back.

Watford is an easy journey but Town tend not to do well there, whereas Hull is a trek with mixed fortunes in terms of results.

I can see a Hull v Palace play-off final with the Tigers doing it this time.

We already know that Swansea and Nottingham Forest are coming up and it will mean a first visit to the Liberty Stadium in Wales for Town fans, while the City Ground is a familiar ground and a relatively easy journey.

Of the four coming up Carlisle would be a nightmare for travelling Town fans; you just know that the fixture list will throw in Plymouth on the Saturday and Carlisle the following Tuesday night.

Given what happened last time at Elland Road not many Town fans will relish a return there and on the pitch Leeds will be among those challenging next season, better if it were still in League One.

Although Southend is just down the A12, it is not the best ground to go to and in any case Doncaster should be too strong although psychologically they will be down after missing out on promotion.

If they were to come up the Keepmoat would be another new ground for Town fans and it would be interesting to see how they cope in the Championship.

N Championship play-offs team news - page 4

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