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McPhail is happy to live with the pressure of Premier bid.

TALK about the pressure of Cardiff City's promotion push to Stephen McPhail and you get a man quite able to keep things in perspective.

Little more than a year ago the 31-year-old Irishman was battling cancer and feared for his future in the game itself.

But, after missing three months of action last season as he was treated for the stage one malt lymphoma, McPhail has come roaring back and will take his place in the Bluebirds midfield at Doncaster today.

Cardiff need the win to keep pace with the Championship automatic promotion places and the midfielder said the old hunger is there to grace the Premier League once again.

McPhail has tasted the top flight with former club Leeds and now wants more at City.

"A year ago I thought I would never play again - now we are close to achieving the dream," said the Irishman.

"I have a huge, huge hunger to play Premiership football again. Once you have played at that level, you never stop working to get back there.

"It's been six or seven years since I played Premiership football and I'm desperate for another crack at it.

"Those of us who have played there try to tell the other lads how good it is. It's a life-changing experience and the next four weeks will decide our fate.

"Maybe I didn't realise how good it was when I was younger. When I stepped down, I realised how good it was.

"I want to be playing Premiership football week in-week out. It's the best league in the world and that's where I want to play.

"Is this my last chance to make it? Hopefully Cardiff City will be promoted and then it will be my last chance because we will be in the Premiership.

"I have never stopped believing we would get there. I loved playing there.

"It's a different way of football, a different way of life."

McPhail has made 24 appearances for Cardiff this season, often partnering Seyi Olofinjana in the heart of the Bluebirds engine room.

Nigerian international Olofinjana, on a season-long loan from Hull, has played an integral part in Cardiff's success and McPhail admitted it is a partnership which could still get better.

"The partnership is developing and we're getting to know each other," he added.

"It's taken a while, but we seem to have had so many partnerships in the middle.

"We do our jobs and hopefully allow the players around us to get forward and express themselves."

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Stephen McPhail
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 9, 2011
Words:421
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