Can Cardiff City Afford To Drop Darcy Blake?
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones is facing a difficult decision tonight, but of the sort he has faced all too rarely this campaign. With the return of several players from injury, the likes of McCormack, Matthews and Capaldi will once again find themselves on the bench. The good news is that central defender Anthony Gerrard is back in contention after his calf strain which saw him ruled out for a fortnight.
With captain Mark Hudson also out after ankle surgery - we had faced a defensive crisis, meaning that not one of our normal back four (Kennedy / Matthews, Hudson, Gerrard & McNaughton) were playing. A makeshift centre-back pairing saw youngster Darcy Blake partner Gabor Gyepes - and both players stepped up manfully. Gyepes has been a colossus in the air in recent games, while Darcy Blake has been assured, committed and very solid indeed. He has never played centre-back at this level but slotted in well, conceding one goal from open play, and another from a corner in his three match spell.
Inevitably, Jones will now face the decision whether to recall the more experienced and taller Gerrard in place of Blake. Certainly, this will be Jones` instinct as he often likes to rest the younger players. However, Blake is enjoying his best run of form in a Cardiff shirt and could even be in contention for a Welsh cap. Can Jones afford to leave out the in-form players?
For me, Darcy Blake should play - alongside Stephen McPhail in midfield. We were very poor in that area against Crystal Palace, and Blake`s added bite and tenacity would back up the creative influence of Macca with Gavin Rae desperately short on form. To me, Rae is merely an extra body in the central midfield area of late, covering lots of ground but contributing nothing in attack and rarely wanting possession. Darcy Blake is a man high in confidence, he can play that midfield role and has done previously to good effect. He deserves a chance to keep that momentum going, and on form - he more than warrants his place, even if it means re-shuffling more experienced players to the bench.