Football Play-Offs: Little entertains big hopes: All to play for today between Derby and Leicester

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The Independent Online
LEICESTER CITY go into today's Endsleigh Insurance League First Division play-off final at Wembley for the third successive year, determined to go one better than on the last two occasions and join Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest in the Premiership next season.

Although their fellow East midland rivals, Derby County, are the bookmaker's favourites, the Leicester manager, Brian Little, can boast of an end-of-season unbeaten run of 11 matches, despite a debilitating injury list.

Several key players are now in contention for places. Iwan Roberts, Steve Thompson, Steve Agnew and Colin Hill are all back in the frame after lengthy lay-offs because of injuries.

Little said: 'I want to field my strongest possible side. But it also has to be the fittest, so I am not going to be kidded by players telling me they are fit if they are not.'

Derby's manager, Roy McFarland, knows that his future and that of his pounds 12m team could be on the line. Defeat could mean his departure, and also transfers for the likes of Craig Short, Tommy Johnson and Paul Kitson.

Kitson, who tore stomach fibres in April, hopes to be on the substitutes' bench. However, there is no place for Shane Nicholson. The defender was released on bail after being arrested following a city-centre brawl in Derby on Saturday, but McFarland has dropped him as a result of the incident.

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