Swindon Town defender Sam Ricketts has reiterated once more just how important it is that his younger team-mates focus on the task at hand on Sunday and play their normal game.
Town will take on Preston North End in the League One play-off final at Wembley this weekend with a coveted place in the Championship for the 2015/16 campaign at stake, with proceedings getting underway from 5.30pm on Sunday.
For many of the Robins’ young squad it will be their first experience of playing in a cup final at the national stadium, with a trip to Wembley planned on Wednesday in order to help the players get used to their surroundings ahead of arriving at the stadium on Sunday.
Having been there, done it and collected the t-shirts when it comes to the play-offs, Ricketts stressed to FLIC SPORT the importance of not getting caught up too much in all of the hype leading up to Town’s biggest game of the season.
“You can savour a certain amount but when the time comes round for the game it’s time to focus,” Ricketts said.
“I think it’s important that we’re going to Wembley earlier on in the week just so everyone can have a look around and get all that out of the way – when we arrive on Sunday we’re there to play the game and obviously win.
“The biggest thing is just to play the normal game – it is a bigger game and there is a lot more build-up to the game so that bit is different, but once kick-off time comes it’s the same game.
“Once the game gets going – I know from personal experience – you are on a roll and if you are prepared right and everything is right, then you forget you are actually playing at Wembley and to an extent you forget the huge crowd because you are just so focused on the game.
“The individual jobs and tasks that you have for the team just take over and you go into game mode.
“We need to make sure we approach it in the same way as we have done all the other games and, if we bring our best game to the table, then we have a great chance of getting promotion.”
Ricketts has sampled both the heartbreaking lows of losing and the extreme highs of winning in a play-off final, experiences the former Swansea City, Hull City and Bolton Wanderers man shared with FLIC SPORT.
“Last time I was at Wembley was a great day with Hull, we got promoted to the Premier League (after beating Bristol City in 2007/08) and it was probably one of the highlights of my career,” added the veteran defender.
“With Swansea it was at the Millennium Stadium and we got beat (a defeat to Barnsley on penalties in 2005/06) but we should have won the game, we destroyed Barnsley but just could not get the winning goal.
“I’ve forgotten that one but the Wembley experience is certainly something that I’ll look back on very fondly.”