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Phone vigil an option to keep up with rivals.

Byline: By IAN HUNT Western Mail

Don't be surprised to see Kenny Jackett with a mobile phone stuck to one ear as he patrols the technical area during Saturday's crunch League One visit of Southend.

Even though there are two games left, Jackett says he may repeat what he did at Bury on the final day of last season by using his phone to keep in touch with how Swansea's promotion rivals are faring.

So claustrophobic has it become in and around the play-off zone that the Swansea manager wants to be aware of results elsewhere so he can try to squeeze more out of his players if necessary.

Sixth-placed Swansea are one spot above Nottingham Forest only because their goal difference is better by four.

Wary of Forest possibly closing the gap with a goal avalanche in their home tie against Bournemouth, Jackett would then urge his side to try to overcome Southend by a healthy margin.

'I didn't follow other results during last Saturday's game at Oldham,' said Jackett.

'It wasn't until after the game that I was aware how other sides had got on. But it's definitely something I may have to consider doing this weekend.

'If both ourselves and another side was drawing, and there was a one-goal goal difference, for instance, we'd have to try to win the game.'

It is not only Forest that Swansea have to be wary of. Should Jackett's men succumb to Southend anxious to finally secure automatic promotion, victories for Bristol City and Oldham would bring those teams level with the Swans, though their goal difference is sizeably inferior.

On the other hand, a draw could be enough to lift Swansea up a place if Barnsley slip up at home to Bradford and Forest fail to conquer Bournemouth.

Given the abundance of permutations, perhaps it is as well that Swansea simply concentrate on winning their match and then reappraise the situation.

As for their opponents, if last weekend's shock 1-0 home defeat to Doncaster resembled an athlete tripping over his shoelaces just in front of the finishing line, Southend hope to finally climb onto a promotion podium place with victory in South Wales.

'It's difficult to predict what Southend will be like,' said Jackett.

'Had they got promoted last weekend and spent the week partying, would they have relaxed more and played with more freedom?

'Now they will still be going for it but they might be nervous. Who knows? It could've gone either way.

'Really I'm just concentrating on my own team, and I'm happier now that our destiny is back in our own hands again.

'It looks like we're playing for fifth or sixth place, but if we were to get six points out of six, fourth spot could still be within reach.

'With the way other teams have been slipping up, you never know.

'If you finish fifth or sixth, you're at home first in the play-offs, which is not necessarily what you want.

'You want to be able to bring sides back to your own ground for the second leg.

'Then again, the team that finishes third is generally the one that wins promotion via the play-offs the less because of the disappointment of perhaps missing out on the top two.

'Whatever positive slant you put on it, you've just got to try to win play-off matches.

'But first we've got to qualify for them - starting with a massive game on Saturday.'
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 27, 2006
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