McPhail Absence Offers Chance To Rivals
Cardiff City will be without key midfielder Stephen McPhail when the much anticipated npower league season kicks-off at 12.35pm on Sunday.
The influential Irishman picked up a knee injury during the close season and has been ruled out for at least a month while he returns to fitness. McPhail is an important member of the Bluebirds engine-room, providing a high tempo, incisive passing game which is key ot our style and tactics. He also has an excellent understanding with Michael Chopra, with the two former Barnsley team-mates often linking up to create problems for opposition defences.
With Joe Ledley now departed, McPhail would likely be first choice for Dave Jones in the Cardiff City engine room. That leaves a choice of whom to accompany him, to provide the steel and bite that works best alongside a classy ball-player. Those likely candidates include former Rangers man Gavin Rae, Man Utd loanee Danny Drinkwater as well as the inexperienced trio of Aaron Wildig, Solomon Taiwo and Darcy Blake. It is expected that the likes of Peter Whittingham and Jason Koumas will be used in wide midfield roles this season.
Therefore, those midfielders vying for places will get a chance to prove their worth in the opening games. Gavin Rae is by far the most experinced and he alone has significant gametime playing with the likes of Burke, Whittingham and Bothroyd. Despite disappointing form over the past two seasons, Rae looks likely to start on Sunday and will hope to emulate his impressive showing in the pre-season friendly against Deportivo.
Danny Drinkwater appears the most liekly partenr at this stage, providing an early chance for many Bluebirds' fans to get their first glimpse of our new loan player. He is eager to impress in South Wales and will hope to stake his claim for a regular starting berth.
The versatile Darcy Blake provides defensive minded cover, while the slight Aaron Wildig is more suited to the high tempo passing game. Taiwo is returning to fitness and will look to revive his faltering CCFC career.
The engine room is always a key battle, and one that Cardiff City have often struggled with in recent seasons. Drinkwater is the only addition (so far) in that area and fans will watch with interest to see what he can offer.