From Headache To Headache For Cardiff City's Jones
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones has been battling off-the-field financial worries for the majority or the season, while his talented but short-on-numbers squad has been hit by a catalogue of injury problems with critical areas often hit by numerous injuries at the same time.
Quite simply, we are doing brilliantly to be near the play-offs after lengthy injuries to key players like Hudson, Ledley, McNaughton, McCormack, McPhail and Gerrard etc. Even our loan player Kelvin Etuhu has been blighted by ankle injuries and is only now establishing himself in the team.
Who could have predicted the impact that youngster Adam Matthews would make while the likes of Darcy Blake and Aaron Wildig have both stepped in to good effect on occasions.
Hudson, Gerrard and Gyepes are our frontline centre-backs. Kevin McNaughton was forced to cover there and did admirably as usual but to have to turn to youngster Darcy Blake and even the full-backs Paul Quinn and Tony Capaldi for further cover was never in Dave Jones' season plan.
Nevertheless , we have done well and Dave Jones now faces selection dilemmas of a wholly different kind. On the back of taking 17 points from a possible 21 (including 7 from points against the other three teams occupying play-off positions) - Jones welcomes back his captain Hudson, player-of-the-year front-runner Chris Burke, Championship top-scorer Peter Whittingham and Mr Consistency Kevin McNaughton from their respective injuries. That alone is the backbone of a good Championship side.
Add to that the welcome returns last week of Joe Ledley, Josh Magennis and Kelvin Etuhu, each of whom had been out for at least 3 months and Dave Jones is once again looking at a serious selection headache!
It is a very tough call for Jones as to whether to drop his impressive 'fill-in' players like Darcy Blake, Ross McCormack, Adam Matthews and Gavin Rae but each was expected to play their roles primarily from the bench this season.
Jones will definitely prefer this selection dilemma as he weights up whether to recall Hudson, or swap Whittingham, Burke and Ledley for Etuhu, McCormack and Rae. It's only going to get worse for DJ as next week looks set to see both Gabor Gyepes and Paul Quinn back in contention and the Bluebirds have a full squad fit and ready for a final play-off assault.