Stephen Darby likes to let his football do the talking.

He’s not the type of player to go shouting the odds and is happy to let others hog the headlines.

But don’t be fooled by the quiet exterior.

City’s right back is a tough-as-nails competitor as opposing wingers have found to their cost all season.

And there’s no question that the former Liverpool trainee has the temperament to cope with the pressure of the tense run-in.

Phil Parkinson knows that all right after their first brush in the play-offs three years ago.

Darby was on loan at Swindon when they faced Parkinson’s Charlton in the League One semi-finals.

And it was the defender, then an inexperienced 21-year-old, who slotted away the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

“We had a chat in the summer when I signed and he mentioned it briefly,” smiled Darby.

“But I’ve scored a couple of penalties here now, although I missed against Arsenal.”

The consistency of Darby on the right and fit-again James Meredith on the left have played a big part in City’s memorable campaign.

But having finally clawed their way back into the top seven, Darby knows they cannot afford to let standards slip.

He said: “We’ve been on a good run of late and put ourselves into a position where we can challenge and make a real push.

“Everyone else has slipped up a little bit, so we’ve just got to keep going. I know it’s a cliché but you cannot look further than the next game.

“Teams are fighting for their lives at this stage of the season.

“You are either going for the play-offs or promotion or you’re battling relegation and trying to stay up.

“No game will be easy and you can’t afford to get carried away or look too far ahead.

“Every one will be massive right to the end.”

The stakes may have been upped after three straight wins but Darby, who plays his 45th game tomorrow, has not noticed a difference in the dressing-room mindset.

“It’s been the same all season. Training is intense every day and everyone wants to succeed – you can see that in the games.

“The gaffer and Steve Parkin keep us level-headed and grounded. We’re not a squad to get carried away.

“We’re really focused on what we’ve got to do and we’ve got some good experience.

“You’ve got to remember, it’s our job. We’ve got to be able to cope with it.

“It’s nice to be playing for something. There’s a great togetherness and team spirit and we’ve just got to keep that going.”

City have sold out their away ticket allocation for the Proact Stadium for a clash that the home side must win to keep their own outside play-off chances alive.

Darby added: “Our supporters have been brilliant all season, home and away.

“We know the support will be great for all the games we have left.

“Since Wembley we’ve had some good form in the league.

“We’ve been working really hard in the games and the supporters can see that.”