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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
First Division play-off preview
Birmingham's Darren Carter is congratulated on scoring the winning penalty in last year's play-off final against  Norwich
Darren Carter celebrates clinching Birmingham's play-off win
Leicester director of football Dave Bassett is already celebrating promotion, safe in the knowledge that his team do not face the end-of-season lottery of the play-offs.

But who is heading up to the Premiership with Leicester and Portsmouth?

Bassett has twice led teams to the First Division play-off final, but suffered defeat both times - with Crystal Palace against Leicester in 1996 and with Barnsley against Ipswich in 2001.

Having learned the hard way that play-offs are impossible to predict, Bassett refuses to pick a winner this time, although his former side Sheffield United are involved.

But he agreed to give BBC Sport the rundown on the two finalists.

"The play-offs are a lottery because you could finish third, 16 points ahead of the team in sixth then meet them in the play-offs and lose," Bassett said.

At Leicester, we would have settled for the play-offs but we are absolutely delighted to have avoided them
Leicester boss Dave Bassett
"This year it was particularly hard because all teams there had some ability. I've seen Sheffield United and Wolves this season and on any given day they are capable of winning games.

"You need a little bit of luck when it comes to the play-offs in terms of a break going for you or somebody having a sensational game - and that could mean a goalkeeper, a centre-half or a centre-forward.

"At Leicester, we would have settled for the play-offs but we are absolutely delighted to have avoided them.

"While the play-offs are on, I shall be on holiday - so if we were in them I would have had to cancel!"

1997 - Division 1
Sheff Utd 1-1 Ipswich
Ipswich 2-2 Sheff Utd
Crystal Palace 1-0 Sheff Utd
1998 - Division 1
Sheff Utd 2-1 Sunderland
Sunderland 2-0 Sheff Utd
2003 - Division 1
Nottm Forest 1-1 Sheff Utd
Sheff Utd 4-3 Nottm Forest aet

Sheffield United:

2002-03 League record: P46 W23 D11 L12 GF72 GA52 Pts80
Promotion odds: 5-6
Key man: Midfield goal machine Michael Brown

Bassett's verdict: Sheffield United are experienced and they have got some good players that blend well together.

They also have the experience of two semi-finals already this season. They have been the team that have caught the eye this season but the play-offs are an entirely different prospect.

1995 - Division 1
Wolves 2-1 Bolton
Bolton 2-0 Wolves
1997 - Division 1
Crystal Palace 3-1 Wolves
Wolves 2-1 Crystal Palace
2002 - Division 1
Norwich 3-1 Wolves
Wolves 1-0 Norwich
2003 - Division 1
Wolves 2-1 Reading
Reading 0-1 Wolves


2002-03 League record:P46 W20 D16 L10 GF81 GA44 Pts76
Promotion odds: 5-6
Key man: Scottish international striker Kenny Miller

Bassett's verdict: On their day Wolves are a very good side and, like Sheffield United, they are very experienced.

They have the experience of last year and will be stronger for it. They have some very good players with Premiership experience so I can see them having a big say.

Who will win the Division One play-off final in Cardiff?
Sheffield United
7008 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

ALSO IN THIS SECTION Football League Podcast

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