sport

Alexander looks to experience

Graham Alexander will call on his playing experience for the biggest match of his managerial career in the play-off final.

Alexander's Fleetwood come up against Burton in the League Two play-off final on Monday after their narrow triumph over York City in the semis.

Former Scotland international Alexander made over 1,000 appearances in a playing career for Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley before branching into his first full-time position with the Cod Army.

After narrowly missing out on automatic promotion, the Lancashire club will now head to Wembley knowing they are one win away from an incredible sixth promotion in 10 years.

Alexander knows all about the ecstasy and agony of a play-off campaign and intends to utilise all of those prior experiences, good and bad, in Fleetwood's preparations this week.

"That's all you've got to fall back on," he said following their play-off semi-final success over York.

"When you go into coaching as a novice manager all of your experience is your playing days. Whatever you picked up from training, other managers, coaches, they all come into it.

"I've tried to use my experience of these occasions in preparation and I'll try and use it again for the final. You can only do so much and the players have got to take that focus themselves."

The 42-year-old spent the bulk of his career at North End, who have never tasted success in the play-offs despite reaching them on nine separate occasions.

"They are sore because you want to win but they are experiences that I would go through again because you have to go through the ups and downs," Alexander added.

"I'd love to go back and change them but you learn from each one as you go along. They've been at different levels, they're great occasions - if you win.

"By the time I got to the one with Burnley I'd been through quite a lot. I had my thoughts on how we should prepare as a team and as a club and now I'm the manager I can take control of that and try and do it the way I think it should be done.

"Whatever you do, all the preparation, there's no guarantee. You've got to tailor it to your players and I think I know my players and I know how to tailor the preparation."

While a number of the Cod Army's players will be visiting Wembley for the first time in their careers, Alexander has fond memories of the London stadium after being part of the Burnley side which achieved promotion into the top flight courtesy of a 1-0 win over Bristol City in 2009.

"It was a great occasion because we won," he admits.

"That's what we have to remember, we're going there to win a game, we're not there to wave at our families. That will be hard enough in itself."