Blackpool V West Ham at Wembley Stadium : Match Preview

19 May 2012 08:21
Blackpool and West Ham will face each other in the Championship Play-off final, with a place in next season's Premier League up for grabs.

Kevin Phillips hopes to earn himself a top-flight swansong when Blackpool take on West Ham in Saturday's npower Championship play-off final.

Veteran striker Phillips will turn out for his fifth Barclays Premier League club if Ian Holloway's men can overcome the Hammers in the Wembley showpiece, having enjoyed his most productive season in front of goal since his Sunderland heyday a decade ago.

The 38-year-old, who has returned 17 goals in all competitions for the Seasiders during the present campaign, is already signed on for next term at Bloomfield Road and would ideally hang up his boots after one last stint at the pinnacle of the English game.

"By the time the season kicks off next year I'll be 39 and if it was in the Premier League I'd pretty much certainly, 99 per cent, call it a day at the end and look to move on to other things," said Phillips.

"I certainly believe I could score goals in that league. "It would be great to hang my boots up at the top, but if it doesn't happen I'll still give it another crack next year and try and help the team get promoted again."

Sam Allardyce insists he has no axe to grind with Blackpool ahead of West Ham's Wembley encounter with his former club.

The Hammers boss is potentially 90 minutes from a return to the Barclays Premier League, 18 months after he was sacked by Blackburn's owners Venky's.

Standing in his way are the Seasiders, the club where Allardyce cut his managerial teeth before he was also ruthlessly shown the door after narrowly missing out on promotion to Division One in 1996.

But the 57-year-old says he bears no grudges ahead of the £90million promotion shoot-out. "It's long gone, water under the bridge," he said. "At the time it was devastating because I thought I might have been lost to football, I thought I might not get back into the game.

"Luckily that wasn't the case but the experience I gained as a manager has stood me in good stead to go on and do better things, so I have no axe to grind with Blackpool."

Allardyce is halfway through a two-year contract at Upton Park but knows questions will be raised about his position if, just as with Blackpool, his current team falter in the play-offs.

The Hammers, relegated 12 months ago, were pre-season favourites for promotion but were edged into third by Reading and Southampton. Allardyce promised to take them back up within a year and is well aware of the price of failure - for both himself and the club.

"I would have thought that come Saturday we won't be talking my job, apart from taking the club back into the Premier League," he added. "But if it is not the case for whatever reason, somebody will say, `will your job be safe?'

"When that comes around I can answer it. For now, my focus is on the team and getting the best out of the team to try and win the most important game for this club since the last time Alan Pardew took them up through the play-offs.

"That is how important it is. It is important for the status of everyone at the club, particularly for myself and my staff and the players who require Premier League status again."

Possible starting XIs

Blackpool: Gilks, Baptiste, Eardley, Evatt, Crainey, M.Phillips, Ferguson, Angel, Ince, Dobbie, Taylor-Fletcher.

West Ham: Green, Demel, Reid, Tomkins, Taylor, Collison, Noble, Nolan, O'Neil, Vaz Te, Cole.

Blackpool V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.

Blackpool - West Ham play-off history

Head-to-head records

Importance of the play-offs

Source: PA