Preston North End defender Tom Clarke believes that confidence is a major factor in a successful promotion push – and the Lilywhites have it.
The former Huddersfield Town man experienced promotion via the Play-Offs under the guidance of Simon Grayson and Glynn Snodin with the Terriers, and he is confident that the Lilywhites could do likewise if the situation arose again this time around.
Speaking exclusively to PNE.Com, Clarke said: “The Play-Offs are something I have been through a couple of times and I have been lucky enough to go up that way.
“It is a nice way to go up, but if you lose in the final it is obviously disappointing.
“If we don’t get promoted automatically, hopefully we can get to the Play-Offs and do well.
“When the gaffer came in to Huddersfield it was towards the end of the season, but you could tell straightaway with his experience in the Play-Offs that he knew how to deal with that and he was very confident.
“If we were to get in the Play-Offs, then he would bring that confidence through to the players and hopefully that would breed confidence through us.
“I think going in to the Play-Offs, it is all about peaking at the right time.
“With a bit of confidence and a few wins under your belt and getting that momentum going; anything can happen.
“It is over two legs and the final is a bit of a lottery really so it depends.
“When we went in to it, we had a few good wins under our belts and you take that momentum into it.
“It is never nice knowing that three games define your season if you go there and lose, but it is a chance to go up and everybody is aiming for that chance to get into the Championship.”
In many of the big games so far this season, the circumstance and situation surrounding them seems to have brought the best out in Clarke and his team-mates, wins at Leyton Orient and outstanding performances against Nottm Forest, Ipswich Town and of course that night against Blackpool being prime example.
And that kind of record when the heat is on means that North End have not given up hope of an automatic promotion spot just yet.
“The players that the gaffer has brought in and the players that were already here have experienced big games and that is what you need, the confidence to take you into those games,” added the PNE No.5.
“We have got 12 games now and they are all important and we have still got a chance for the automatic positions and we haven’t given up on that, but we are going to be ready and willing for the Play-Offs as well if that’s where we end up.”
This Saturday, the Preston roadshow makes the short journey to Oldham, were a big away following is expected to get behind Simon and the boys.
And after two tough matches against the Latics already this campaign, Clarke expects nothing but the same again come the weekend.
He continued: “All the games coming up now are important, it has come down to the business end and Oldham is not an easy away game.
“They have proved that when they played us at home and it is going to be difficult.
“We have trained hard and we need to go there and get a good result which is what we need.
“We have played them twice and they played well in both games.
“They have got some good players and it is going to be difficult, but we are going there with confidence.
“We have had two good wins recently and a draw and we are hoping for a good result.”