Cardiff City Selection Headaches: # 3
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones has been in unfamiliar territory during the latter end of the Championship run-in with the majority of his selection headaches being whether to rest top players / rotate to give fit and hungry reserves a chance. That`s in direct contrast to other periods where a central midfield crisis was followed by a defensive one to leave Jones really scraping the Bluebirds barrel for viable options. The Cardiff City team to face Leicester City on Sunday is all but decided but realistically there are three major decisions for Jones to make.
Selection 3: Michael Chopra or Ross McCormack
The Bluebirds are blessed with having two prolific goalscorers on their books vying for the chance to partner Jay Bothroyd in the Cardiff City attack. Both are capable of scoring 20+ goals in this division making them multi-million pound properties. The problem is, they cant both play and although McCormack is able to operate in a wide midfield role, he is somewhat wasted there and does not provide the potent threat he does in attack. As such, McCormack has been the victim of his own versatility and has looked far less dangerous than last season.
In recent weeks, Chopra and McCormack have shared the putative 'number 10` shirt with each getting chances. However, Chops has undoubtedly been 1st choice for the majority of the season and rewarded his manager`s faith with 16 league goals over the campaign. That dwarves the disappointing 4 goals netted by McCormack, but if you factor in the minutes both have spent playing in attack - the stats look a great deal closer. In fact, considering Chopra scored 11 of his goals (that`s over two thirds) in the first 10 games (roughly one fifth) of the season, and Rosco netted twice in January and twice in March - the decision is far from clear-cut.
McCormack was give the start in the dead rubber against Derby County, suggesting that Chopra will be given the nod against Leicester City. Nevertheless, there`s no doubting that McCormack was one of just a handful of players starting (along with Burke & Hudson likely and Quinn / Etuhu possible) that could have any hope of starting in the play-offs. During that game, McCormack looked lively and was certainly our most likely source of a goal. He forced a decent save from Saul Deeney, and saw another effort fly over when well placed. McCormack was happy with his performance, especially given it was his first outing linking up with Northern Ireland frontman Warren Feeney.
There`s no doubting Michael Chopra is a fine player, and Leicester City fans will not want to remember an exquisite hat-trick he netted against them during his first spell with the Bluebirds. Just a few weeks previously, he popped up with two classic Chopra finishes to down local rivals Swansea City - a result that severely dented their play-off hopes. There is a lingering doubt about Chopra`s state of mind, with persistent off-field problems hampering his focus. Regular gambling sprees have not gone un-noticed and while Chopra`s season has been prolific, he is heavily reliant on early season form and has not produced his best consistently for some time.
Both players are dangerous, and both make good cases to start the match. For me, Chopra is more likely to pounce on a loose ball in the box, but Rosco is more likely to make something happen and looks more comfortable with the ball at his feet. The decision looks likely to rest on performances in training and who is higher in confidence on the day, but based on past form and Dave Jones as we know him, it`s an attractive bet that it`ll be Michael Chopra 'coming over the hill` at the Walkers` Stadium Sunday.
Vital Cardiff Decision: Michael Chopra
Expected DJ Decision: Michael Chopra
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The other major decisions faced by Dave Jones are available to view below:
# 1 A case for the defence
# 2 All important side issue