Date:Friday April 23 2010
Cardiff City boss Dave Jones is in the unfamiliar position of deciding whether to rest certain players rather than go all out for the points with the Bluebirds having already qualified for the play-offs and facing two 'dead rubbers` prior to those all-important games.
The Bluebirds are on a great run, and have been boosted by the return from injury of Joe Ledley, while the emergence of Darcy Blake has been another major plus. Jones is likely to look for continuity and will be reluctant to alter the balance of his in-form side by altering his selection. We must also remember that this is by no means a meaningless match in the context of the Championship and Sheffield Wednesday desperately need a win to give them a chance of avoiding relegation. Therefore, perhaps we owe it to the Owls` fellow strugglers to field our best XI.
The end-of-season run-in has not created injury crises nor been crammed with re-arranged fixtures, therefore it could be argued that none of the first XI is in need of a rest. However, we do have players who are now fully fit but lacking in match practise - if we needed to call upon any of those players during the play-offs, we would of course want them as sharp as possible. Mark Hudson is one who could really use some gametime, having missed over 2 months following ankle surgery. Gabor Gyepes has also been out of action with a hamstring problem and both defenders would lack match sharpness if called upon. Paul Quinn is another who has sat out, but could yet win a recall.
McCormack, Etuhu, McNaughton and even returning star Joe Ledley have a major role to play for the Bluebirds but have also been short on gametime. Injury to one of our stars would be devastating tomorrow so would it be more beneficial to give Etuhu the nod ahead of Burke? What of Bothroyd, many would like to see him wrapped in cotton wool until the play-offs given his importance to the team.
I would give Darcy Blake the chance to maintain his form, either at centre-back or possibly at right-back with McNaughton included on the other flank. That would allow Hudson, Gyepes or both to feature - not forgetting they were expected to be the first choice pairing at the start of the season. Etuhu also needs gametime, whilst Chopra and McCormack could have 45 minutes each in attack without weakening the look of the side.
Morale, form and expectation are all high at Cardiff City - the key is balancing that with getting our best possible squad fit and available for those all-important play-offs.
Date:Friday April 23 2010
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