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Leon Britton: Capital One cup finalists Swansea City are in a different world

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

how times have changed  Leon Britton playing against  Bradford in 2006.

How times have changed: Leon Britton playing against Bradford in 2006.

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LEON Britton was in the side the last time Swansea City faced Bradford City.

He was in the Swansea side which came so close to dropping into non-league football a decade ago.

And he has been part of the various Swansea sides who have carried the club from one end of English football's ladder to the other.

On Sunday, he will be part of the Swansea side who walk out at Wembley knowing they are 90 minutes away from landing the first major trophy in the history of the club.

The 33,000 travelling Jacks will not need telling about how far Swansea have come.

In the dressing room, however, there are plenty who do not know much about where Swansea were not so long ago.

Britton could explain.

"In 2006 it was a big deal for us to reach the Football League Trophy final," the midfielder points out.

"That game (against Carlisle United) was at the Millennium Stadium and it was live on television so it was a big occasion for us, there's no doubt about that.

"But we've moved on as a club and this is a bit different. We're competing for a major honour in English football."

This weekend's Capital One Cup final will see Swansea face Bradford City for the first time since January 2007, when Kenny Jackett's team came away from Valley Parade fuming despite earning a 2-2 draw.

Britton is the sole survivor from the 16-man Swansea squad that day who will be involved again when the two clubs are reunited in North London.

But there are plenty of others in Michael Laudrup's squad who know all about competing with teams from the lower echelons of the English game.

The core of Swansea's playing staff, after all, have been with the club since less glamorous times.

"A lot of the boys have played lower-league football so we'll know what to expect," Britton adds.

"Myself, Garry Monk, Ashley Williams, Alan Tate — we've all been at that level and we're used to the football.

"We'll know what to expect so for the lads who might not be so sure of what to expect, we'll give them a reminder.

"It's really tough. No matter who you play in the Premier League or the Football League, every game is tough."

For Swansea, Sunday's game is somewhat out of the ordinary, for Laudrup's team will begin as overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy.

This is a club who have been serial underdogs in recent years, who have spent much of the last decade trying to prove the experts wrong.

Now Swansea have to handle the favourites' tag in this, the year of the underdog in the Capital One Cup.

"For some of the lads who've been here a long time, the boot was on the other foot five or six years ago," Britton says.

"We were the team in League One or League Two trying to beat the teams in the higher divisions.

"We know what to expect. The cup results this season have shown that anything can happen on the day, so there's no way we'll be complacent against Bradford."

The Bantams do not come into the game in great form.

Phil Parkinson's men were beaten at AFC Wimbledon — the bottom club in the Football League — last weekend and have won only one of their last eight League Two games.

Swansea's recent record makes prettier reading, although there was one almighty reverse last weekend.

Fresh from their warm-weather training camp in Dubai, Swansea looked like their heads were still on the beach rather than at Anfield.

"The Liverpool game was a one-off," Britton stresses.

"It put a downer on things and it wasn't good from us, but we've got to move on.

"Once we get back into training, we'll get it out of our system and wipe the slate clean.

"The senior boys will be telling the rest of the squad that we've got to train hard, focus and go again next week."

Swansea cannot afford a repeat of last Sunday's efforts at Wembley, for their dreams of silverware and European football are liable to be dashed if that is what they produce.

In truth it is unlikely to happen, for this is one of those games where Laudrup will not have to spend long worrying about a motivational team talk.

If anything, the manager's task will be to calm his players down, to ensure they focus on their performance rather than the occasion.

Manage that and Swansea will have a golden chance to emerge with the big prize.

"It's just fantastic for the football club and the city that we've reached the final," reckons Britton.

"And of course we'll be giving it everything on Sunday.

"We've got 30,000 Swansea fans going and we want to make it a happy day for them."

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