Having secured a fifth-place finish in the Championship table, Cardiff City are faced with the prospect of a South Wales derby in the Championship Play-Off Final, but first they must overcome Scott Parker’s Fulham, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion and are looking for an immediate return to the top flight themselves.
Like Fulham, Cardiff City were of course in the Premier League as recently as last season, and Bluebirds' forward Junior Hoilett says the club is determined to make a swift return to the top flight, as they have ‘unfinished business’ in the Premier League.
"I think we have the mentality of wanting to be back in the Premier League,” Hoilett said, speaking ahead of Monday night’s Semi-Final first leg against Fulham.
"We feel that we have unfinished business in the Premier League and everybody wants to be back there, it’s where the football club and the city belong. We’ll do anything to get back in the top flight."
Cardiff were 15th in the table when Neil Harris entered the Bluebirds’ dugout earlier this season, but the former Millwall manager has had a successful first season in South Wales, guiding Cardiff to an eventual fifth-place finish.
Their win over Hull City on the final day of the regular Championship season was not only their sixth win in nine games since the season resumed in June, but also a third win in a row, providing them with plenty of momentum heading into the Play-Off campaign.
"We have good momentum going into the game against Fulham with three wins on the bounce, and we have a good spirit here,” the Cardiff forward continued. "Everyone is raring to go and ready to put everything on the line to reach the Final.
"We have to maintain the form that we are currently in, execute the tactics the manager has asked of us and stay organised and be hard to beat. If we get those things right, the result will go our way.
"We’ve worked hard as a team to get here, but we still have a long way to go to be successful. Team spirit is high, we’re focused on our goal and everyone is willing to fight for one another here to reach that goal."
Hoilett, who secured promotion to the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers via the Play-Offs back in 2014, has scored seven goals in total this season, three of those coming in nine appearances since football restarted in June.
"I used the lockdown to relax more than anything,” he revealed.
"I’d been playing a lot of football with my club and internationally, so it was good to have that time to recharge, relax and get ready to hit the ground running when we returned.
"I think it helped me return to a level of form that I am used to, so let’s hope I can bring that form into the Play-Offs.
“As a team we all had the aim of getting into the Play-Offs, and during the lockdown we all worked really hard and kept fit to make that possible."
Hoilett believes Cardiff and the current squad have the mentality to secure a return to the Premier League, and has praised manager Neil Harris’ impact since his arrival to South Wales.
"He’s done a brilliant job since coming in. He’s got the team organised and has implemented a style of play that makes us organised and hard to beat.
"He’s a very honest person and we’re an honest group as a whole. He’s got us playing at our top level and it’s great to be a part of that right now. It’s been a long season and it’s great to finish where we finished, but if we can end it with winning the Play-Offs it would top it off."