Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sam Saunders hails ‘fantastic’ Gareth Ainsworth before Wycombe’s play-off final

Sam Saunders (left) hailed Gareth Ainsworth as ‘fantastic’ (Barrington Coombs/PA)
Sam Saunders (left) hailed Gareth Ainsworth as ‘fantastic’ (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Former Wycombe midfielder Sam Saunders has hailed Chairboys manager Gareth Ainsworth as “fantastic” as the club prepare to face Sunderland in the SkyBet League One play-off final.

Wycombe were relegated from the Championship last season but have a chance bounce straight back up with a win against the Black Cats at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

Saunders played under Ainsworth during two spells at the club – on loan in 2015 before joining permanently between 2017-2019 – and he praised the manager for the work done in nearly a decade in charge at Adams Park.

Sam Saunders poses with the play-off trophy
Sam Saunders (pictured) played under Ainsworth during two spells at the club (EFL handout/PA)

Speaking on behalf of the EFL before the final, Saunders told the PA news agency: “It was a really good place to work.

“Gaz (Ainsworth) every day was positive, good demands, wanted the best for his players, wanted the best for his team and, like I say, good guys and good people to work with.

“Just being part of a group who are all going the same way, no egos, all for the team, it was really nice to be a part of.

“Gaz is such a good guy, he does things right and he’s consistent in his messages and he’s good to people, he’s a people person in his energy.

“He’d never ask you to do anything he wasn’t willing to do. So as a player, you’ve got the point straight away. He’s warts and all – he tells you exactly how it is, he’ll be as fair as he possibly can.

“You’ll run through a brick wall for Gaz, but you’ll also run through a brick wall for your team-mate who’s right of you and your team-mate who’s left of you because there’s such a tightknit squad, you just don’t want to let anyone down.

“Yes, Gaz has been fantastic but Gaz alone will admit it’s not just him, it’s a whole collective.”

Ainsworth led Wycombe to a sixth-placed finish in League One this season and they reached the play-off final after beating MK Dons 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

Their previous meetings with Sunderland this season saw the Black Cats win 3-1 in September as well as a 3-3 draw in January, and Saunders admitted he was unable to predict who would win on Saturday.

“Honestly I can’t call it,” he said.

“I’ll be completely honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a 4-2. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a 1-0 and Wycombe nicked it from a corner. I cannot call it.

“It is going to be a fantastic game, whether it’s going to be really tight and really tactical or whether it’s going to be a humping with both teams being really open and going to go from side-to-side.

“I don’t know which way it’s going to pan out but I know for a fact, the atmosphere is going to be fantastic and it should be a really good game.”