Jones hails Cardiff spirit

Last season's setback has inspired the Bluebirds' promotion push

Jones: Confident in his squad

Jones: Confident in his squad

Dave Jones believes last season's disappointment has propelled Cardiff to the brink of the Premier League.

The Bluebirds are one game from returning to the top flight for the first time since 1962 as they face Blackpool in Saturday's Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Jones' side were in the top six throughout last season but one point from their last 12 allowed Preston to snatch the final play-off spot by just one goal.

Jones picked his players up during the close season, though, and they have bounced back this term, this time comfortably making the play-offs before coming from behind to get past Leicester on penalties in the semi-finals.

And the bitter blow of last season's setback remains in the memory bank as Cardiff aim to finish the job on Saturday.

"We missed out by a goal last year and everyone said that was the end of us," said the Bluebirds' boss.

"But we have gone one step further now, and now it is about one more final step.

Utterly disappointed

"We fell away last May, everyone was utterly disappointed but we have bounced back.

"That failure will never go away but it is there to draw upon and it has been bought out once or twice this year.

"We knew there is only one way to correct it which is to go up and prove to ourselves that we are good enough.

"It's the toughest division to get out of but I have complete confidence in my players - I have to."

Cardiff have had a host of problems to contend with this season but they have served to galvanise Jones' squad.

And with a new board set to take over, the club's financial position looks secure regardless of whether the Bluebirds prevail against Blackpool.

"In the main I have nothing but admiration for these players," Jones added.

"We have battled injuries, illness and retirements as well as all the off-the-field problems.

Camaraderie

"We haven't carried the biggest of squads but we have a camaraderie that binds the squad and staff together and they have all been superb.

"Our expectations are higher than anyone else's and we have all pulled together.

"You can't inject people with experience, you have to go through highs and lows and we have certainly had them over the last two or three years.

"Some of the best players in the world have frozen in big games but we have got to go out and play with freedom.

"If you make a mistake, don't worry about it and get on with it. If anybody is not looking forward to it then get out now because this is what we all aspire to in the game.

"It will be a fantastic occasion for both sets of players."