Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic has urged his players not to be scared when they face Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final.
The Cottagers are a game away from returning to the Premier League for the first time since 2014, having missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the league season when they were beaten 3-1 by Birmingham.
That defeat was Fulham’s first in 24 league games and they have recovered to reach the final after overturning a first-leg deficit to beat Derby in the play-off semi-finals, but having fallen at that stage last year, Jokanovic knows how tricky managing pressure at this stage of the season can be.
“It’s a special game, but on the other hand we must understand it is only one game. “We must try to play, perform and show our quality, to show we are focused and concentrated to show we are a good team. We must play the game, we must not be scared. In football there are different results but we are thinking about only one.
“We are more experienced, we played in the play-offs last season and knew more or less what we were going to find.
“We are going to have an opportunity to play the most important game in the last few years for us, we know how we are going to find it and at the end, what we want is to win.
“People only remember winners, no-one remembers the team that lost the final. It’s one of the most important games in our careers.”
Jokanovic has enjoyed almost two weeks with his squad to prepare for the biggest game of their season since eliminating Derby at Craven Cottage.
Such a long wait for the final is unlikely to aid any nerves, but the Fulham boss has used that extra time to get his players as prepared as possible for the game.
He said: “On one hand it’s not such great news the long wait, but on the other we have enough time to think about all the details, to prepare for everything and be ready for the game.
“The game is huge. It’s important for both teams, and we must use this period to treat all the details we can during the game. During the regular part of the Championship you don’t have the time for that, but now we look at everything.”