What a turnaround - two years after dropping into the third tier of the League system for the first time in the club's history, Leicester City are just three games away from clinching a second successive promotion to give them what would be a return to the Premier League for the first time in seven seasons.

Nigel Pearson, appointed Manager in the summer of 2008 with the aim of guiding the Foxes back to the Coca-Cola Championship as quickly as possible, has achieved everything asked of him and more as he looks ahead to a two-leg Play-Off semi-final against Cardiff City after finishing fifth in the table, one place below the Bluebirds.

Pearson's team ended the regular season in fine style, winning their last five matches and conceding only two goals in the process. That run will stand the Foxes in good stead as they take on the Bluebirds in a crucial home and away tie with a Wembley Final at stake. Not that the never-ruffled Pearson is getting too excited.

"This is a normal week and there is nothing particularly out of the norm in terms of preparation for the next game," said the 46-year-old Manager. "We know the magnitude of the tie but we won't start looking too far into that - it's just about it being another game for us.

"We negotiated a tricky fixture on Sunday (Leicester beat Middlesbrough 2-0). We didn't want to lose the game because we had won the previous four, but it was important we didn't pick up injuries or get players sent off. So it was good to get through that, and we are in good form and have most of the players available."

What could prove crucial in the context of player availability is the return of striker Matty Fryatt, who played the last half-hour of Sunday's game as substitute after being out of action for almost three months due to a broken jaw. With 12 goals Fryatt is still the club's joint leading scorer and Pearson said: "It's great to see Matty back.

"There was speculation about whether he would contribute again this season. We spoke about him having to aim to come back for the Play-Offs if we got there. Well, we have got there, he has got out on the field and I thought he looked pretty sharp. He's been training well for the last few weeks and it gives us another dimension.

"It's great to have a lot of players available. Clearly there are going to be a lot of selection issues and there will be disappointed players, but the important thing is that there is a huge incentive for us all to progress. We go into these games with a bit of confidence knowing that we have performed pretty well of late."

The Foxes have met the Bluebirds three times in the last four months. In the League they beat them 1-0 at home but lost 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium, where in Round Four of the FA Cup they also went down - two stoppage time goals gave Cardiff a 4-2 win after Pearson's team had led 2-1 at the interval.

"That was a bizarre Cup game," recalled Pearson. "We should have progressed but ended up losing. Cardiff are tricky opponents, but I'm sure that they'll give us respect as well. Both camps will feel they're well equipped to progress, so we'll see how it goes. But we are certainly going into these Play-Offs in good shape."

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