BARRY FERGUSON never gave up on tasting the riches of the Premier League once more when he made a shock switch to Blackpool a year ago.

And the former Rangers skipper hopes to take a step closer to that dream tonight when he squares off against old club Birmingham City in the first leg of the npower Championship play-off semi-final at Bloomfield Road.

Many people raised eyebrows when Ferguson made the move to the Seasiders after two years at Brum, who themselves had crashed out of the big-time last summer after relegation.

But he insisted: "The first time I talked over the move with the manager, Ian Holloway, he made it clear the main priority was to bounce straight back into the Premier League.

"That challenge was massive for me and I never ever viewed it as a step down. I have always been driven about getting back to the Premier League and play there with a third club.

"And now we are just potentially three games away from doing it."

With potentially £50million at stake, Ferguson knows that it will be major pressure for his club, Birmingham, West Ham and Cardiff who are in the other semi-final, with the final itself at Wembley on May 19.

But he said: "Our club won through the play-offs a couple of years ago, so hopefully that experience will count. We are probably the underdogs from the four teams left in the play-offs.

"But that suits us fine and right now we just need to focus on getting a good result in the first leg to take with us to St Andrews next week.

"The ground will be packed, I'm sure it will be a cracking atmosphere and we can't wait."