Crewe Alexandra: Johnstone's Paint Trophy talk could cost points, warns Steve Phillips
STEVE Phillips says Crewe's league form should not be affected by dreams of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final – but believes it still might help to ban talk of Wembley in the Gresty Road dressing room.
The keeper, already a three-time trophy finalist, believes his team-mates are too professional to let hopes of glory derail their league ambitions.
However, he does admit performances have dipped in their last two games, defeats to League One's bottom two Hartlepool and Portsmouth.
Phillips said: "I hope Wembley is at the back of players' minds because the most important thing is how we play in the league.
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"It's great we're in the final but between the two Coventry legs we almost banned the "W" word, and I think we should ban it again. Let's concentrate on our bread and butter.
"For all that, it's easy for people to jump on the bandwagon and say we're not playing well because Wembley's around the corner, but that's a load of rubbish.
"We are still fully focussed on what we've got to do week in, week out."
Phillips's previous teams have all managed to get through their league campaigns unaffected by reaching the final of the lower-league knock-out.
His first taste of battling on both fronts came with Bristol City in 2000, when he was challenging Billy Mercer for the number one jersey.
The Robins' league form did not suffer too badly after making it to Wembley, drawing three and winning three of their six games between the area and national finals.
They did, however, lose at the home of football to Stoke City, with Phillips an unused substitute.
Bristol City were back again three years later and again there was little disruption as they won five, drew one and lost one of their seven games after a southern final against Cambridge.
And this time they won at the Millennium Stadium, too, with Phillips keeping a clean sheet as City overcame Carlisle United 2-0.
It was a similar story in 2007, when Phillips' Rovers beat City in the southern final then won three and drew two of seven matches before their day out in Cardiff.
Phillips was on the losing side in that final as Doncaster Rovers won 3-2 after extra-time, but his team bounced back to win promotion via the play-offs.
Crewe still have another seven games to pack in before they set off for London to take on League Two side Southend United on Sunday, April 7.
Phillips added: "We've got to 47 points already, but we've got a tough run in and we don't want to fall by the wayside. We want to push on and cement our place in the top 10.
"If we can do that in this division, which is unbelievably competitive, then we will have had a great season – but there is a long way to go yet."
Crewe put Wembley tickets on general sale yesterday.
Southend have already sold 12,000 tickets and their allocation does not go on general sale until next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Alex have reduced ticket prices for League One matches either side of their first major cup final.
Entry for the Preston North End game on Easter Monday and the rearranged Brentford match on Wednesday, April 10 are now priced at £13 for adults, £9 for pensioners, £3 for under-16s and £2 for under-11s.