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Kevin Phillips: I can't take any more play-off heartbreak

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KEVIN Phillips says that he would prefer to go up automatically with Palace rather than face further play-off heartbreak.

The 39-year-old has played in three Championship play-off finals throughout his career and has lost all of them – and he admits the possibility of facing Brighton & Hove Albion at Wembley would be "intense".

Phillips lost his first one in 1998 against Charlton Athletic while he was at Sunderland, then he was part of the West Bromwich Albion side that lost to Derby County in 2007 before last season's disappointment with Blackpool against West Ham.

"People tell me that the play-offs is one of the best ways to go up, but believe me, going up automatically, there's no better feeling," he said.

"As players, you get longer time to rest and you get more time to prepare for the following season, so automatic promotion certainly benefits everyone.

"As a loan player, you do feel that intense feeling and there's always a different atmosphere in derby matches.

"I've played a in a few over the years and in some where there's more than 50,000 people.

"Down at Brighton, there's only 20,000 or so fans, but if Palace were to meet them in the play-off final, there would be 80,000 people at Wembley – it would be some final.

"We've seen the Manchester final in the FA Cup and other derbies, but I'm pretty sure it would be intense."

The striker, who admits he's a fan of the red side of north London, admits he did find it surprising there was a huge rivalry between both clubs.

"I do find the geographical rivalry a bit crazy between the clubs looking from the outside in," said Phillips.

"For me, when I came down to Palace, I didn't even know it was a derby against Brighton – I thought it would be either Palace v Charlton or Palace v Millwall.

"When I was told it was Brighton, I was a bit shocked, but that's the way it is.

"As an Arsenal fan, it was the rivalry between us and Tottenham I was brought up on."

During his successful career, Phillips played for three of the biggest clubs based in Birmingham, and despite the fierce rivalry, he doesn't suffer any abuse for his previous connections.

"I'm fairly lucky that I did quite well at Birmingham City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion," he said.

"I still live in the area, so whenever I'm out I don't get any trouble whatsoever.

"People are respectful and thankful for what I did for their clubs and I certainly enjoy living in the Midlands."

And with only six games remaining, the forward isn't even thinking about his plans for next season.

He said: "When I signed a deal with Palace, I was pretty resigned that my Blackpool career was finished.

"My total focus and priority and focus is trying to help Palace gain promotion."

Kevin Phillips: I can't take any more play-off heartbreak


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