Cardiff City's 'Top Trio' No Good In Stands !
Cardiff City possess a wealth of striking talent at Dave Jones' disposal and have been attracting jealous glances from Championship rivals of late. Clearly we have the firepower to go out and win games comfortably, but much will depend on our defensive and midfield contributions if we are to enjoy success.
We were able to offload Ross McCormack, a player of genuine talent and a proven goalscorer - now at Leeds United because he would barely have featured here. That leaves us with Bellamy, Chopra, Bothroyd and Keogh to lead the line, with support from the likes of Koumas and Burke when needed.
However, on Saturday we were unable to call upon three of those players due to injury. Chopra is out for weeks while Bothroyd and Bellamy had both picked up minor niggles and failed fitness tests leaving Keogh to plough a lone furrow in attack.
Arguably, we were without three strikers I would name in the top five currently playing in the Championship. Few would argue that Craig Bellamy deserves that accolade, and many would agree he is the best striker in the division after his superb form in the Premiership last year with Manchester City.
The other two cases are less clear but I can't think of a classier player than Jay Bothroyd at this level. His all round contribution to the team is first class as he challenges aerially, closes down, holds up possession, bring midfielders in and also weighs in with goals. He does a good job defensively at corners etc and with Wembley as case in point - we were lost without him. Bothroyd brings the best from those around him, and Chopra/McCormack/Whittingham/Burke all have him to thank for their respective goalscoring records.
Michael Chopra is also undoubtedly a superb player in the Championship, backed up by recent interest from promotion challengers QPR and Ipswich Town. He did OK in the Premiership, but was not given many opportunities and we were delighted to re-sign a £5m player with his record and reputation. Chopra is skilful, pacy and a natural finisher - he is also far cleverer than many acknowledge. His contribution reaches far beyond his impressive goalscoring record and his cleaver runs and flicks provide the space between and behind defenders for others to exploit.
Of course there are a number of other players who could realistically expect to be named 'best in the Championship'. Nicky Maynard (Bristol City) is a fine player while former Rangers man Kris Boyd must be considered a fantastic signing for Middlesbrough. Those two would make up my 'top 5' with the aforementioned Bluebirds.
Other contenders include Steve Morison, who has made a big impact so far with suprise package Millwall while Dexter Blackstock (Nott'm Forest)is a proven performer and, in my eyes, very undervalued.
Welsh youngsters Simon Church (Reading) and Chedwyn Evans (Sheffield United) have great promise, as does Jay Rodriguez at Burnley.
James Vaughan (on loan at Crystal Palace), David Nugent (despite disappointing at Portsmouth) and Matty Fryatt (leicester City) are all very good players. I'm also sure I've forgotten a few!
Very few teams could cope with the loss of three such brilliant players (as Bellamy, Bothroyd and Chopra) in the same position. Even Chelsea etc would look stretched if Drogba, Anelka and Kalou were missing. I don't want to think how we'd have coped in past seasons with the loss of three such players (truthfully, we've rarely ever had three such players!). However, Keogh stepped in well and did a good job, helping the Bluebirds to a 2-0 win over Hull City. That speaks volumes of our improved squad depth and shows we can compete even in difficult circumstances - it looks like we may have to 'make do' again against Leicester City tomorrow night but here's hoping Jay and Craig are back for the weekend trip to Ipswich, and Chops is back among the goals in mid-October...there should be goals aplenty in store for Cardiff City fans!!!
Cardiff City fans will (almost) always give 100% backing to our players on the pitch, you can also support a fantastic cause by donating to the Craig Bellamy Foundation. Further information about Bellamy`s excellent work to promote footballing and academic development for African youngsters is available via the links. Please help support if you can.