Cheltenham V Crewe at Wembley Stadium : Match Preview
26 May 2012 01:31
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Burgess focusing on final date
Ben Burgess heads into the npower League Two play-off final not knowing what his own future holds but desperate to help Cheltenham see off Crewe and clinch promotion.
The experienced striker joined the Robins on loan in late March on a deal until the end of the season from Notts County, who have already told the 30-year-old he will not offered a new contract next season.
Burgess' three goals in nine appearances, including a crucial header in the semi-final triumph over Torquay, have helped guide Cheltenham to within 90 minutes of League One football next season.
But the frontman knows he is also playing for his own livelihood.
"If I play well at Wembley then my future will be looking bright," Burgess told Press Association Sport.
"I've just got to see, I'm like every other out-of-contract player, there must be thousands. Every year it gets harder.
"The idea was to come to Cheltenham, play games and sort of put myself in the shop window but I want to do as well as I can for Cheltenham because they've done well for me, the gaffer has been good to me.
"So we'll play on Sunday, hopefully win and then see what happens from there.
"A couple of months ago I thought my season had ended. It is strange how football turns out."
Burgess has loved his time at Cheltenham and insists it is down to the club as to whether he gets the chance to pull on a Town shirt next season.
"You've got to ask the gaffer [Mark Yates] that one, I'm not entirely sure," he said.
"It's hard for teams in the play-offs to sort anything out because you don't know what division you're going to be in.
"The ball's in their court, but I have certainly enjoyed myself."
Burgess is aiming for his third Wembley play-off success after tasting League One and Championship glory with Blackpool in 2007 and 2010 respectively but Crewe will provide a stern test.
Steve Davis' side arrive at Wembley on the back of a club-record 18-match unbeaten run.
Such success seemed unlikely when the 46-year-old succeeded club legend Dario Gradi to take on his first Football League assignment in November as Alex languished 18th in the table.
But a side moulded around Crewe's famed youth production line - there could be as many as nine homegrown players in the starting line-up - has proved to be a recipe for success.
"The club are very, very proud and everyone connected with the club - the academy staff, the coaches, Dario, Bakes (assistant manager Neil Baker) - they've all played their part," Davis said.
"We've got some very good staff here and that enables us to produce the players that we do.
"We're fortunate that we've got a big set of players that's come through together and grown up together in some cases.
"That understanding they've got was already there. It's a natural thing from when they were seven, eight, nine years of age.
"We've brought that into the team now and I'm not sure any other club in the Football League or Premier League could boast that sort of academy group in the first team."
Experience comes in the form of veteran goalkeeper Steve Phillips and captain David Artell, who is set to line-up at centre-back despite nursing a broken metatarsal.
"I think their experience is vital among young lads who have not been in this situation before," Davis added.
"He'd play with anything, Dave. He's a tough lad from Rotherham and they do breed them tough up there.
"He wouldn't miss this opportunity to play at Wembley for the world and his performances over the last two or three months are deserving of it."