Naylor Dilemma For Cardiff City
Cardiff City are in woeful form, characterised by a shaky defence severely lacking in confidence, quality and form. If they were playing close to the best, it's a decent Championship back four but while Hudson and McNaughton have performed averagely of late, Blake, Gyepes and Lee Naylor have been very poor.
Indeed, Lee Naylor in particular has come in for particular criticism and has been very poor. He was hauled off in the first half against Watford after being terrorised by Buckley, conceding a penalty, booking and goals down our left.
That was followed up by another shocker at Bristol City where Albert Odomah again caused havoc and was a clear gameplan by the Robins. Naylor has been solid on occasions, but is generally below par and in a weak link in the back four.
Unfortunately for Cardiff City, we have no otehr designated let-back in the squad. Mark Kennedy and Tony Capaldi have departed while that position has been a problem area for many seasons.
Now, however, it seems a change simply must be made. Dave Jones is historically loyal to under-performing players but for the majority of fans - Naylor must be rested and a new back four selected. THat means a change in position for the versatile workhorse Kevin McNaughton.
McNaughton is primarily a right-back, but is also comfortable on the left and has occupied that position to good effect in the past. He is more than capable fo shoring up the left meaning we could opt for an alternative at right back where we do have options.
The three men in contention to replace Naylor would therefore be Darcy Blake, Adam Matthews or forgotten man Paul Quinn. Blake has looked far from comfortable this season, but could benefit from a change to a full-back role. He is not the normal build for a centre-back, but has pace and a good pass - he is seen by the coaching staff as more suited to right-back and is a realistic option.
Adam Matthews is also a viable choice, with the highly-rated youngster showing considerable promise over the past 2 seasons. He has not reached his best form this season, characterised by some costly mistakes including a calamitous own goal away at Ipswich and a slip to allow a Dexter Blackstock goal when we were chasing the game at home to Nottingham Forest. However, he remains a good player - if short on confidence. It would be a big ask to throw him into a struggling defensive unit but he's young, and would love to regain his place.
Altrnatively, there is Paul Quinn - who has barely featured at all for Cardiff City this season, after a slightly disappointing campaign following a £350k move from Motherwell. Quinn is also somehwat error prone, but is certainly determined, comitted and vociferous. We have often lacked a leader, and Quinn is always happy for his voice to be heard. He has previously shown himself to be a man for a crisis, after a simply brilliant performance when we defended heroically with 9 men against Leicester City. A back four of Whittingham, Capaldi, Quinn and Matthews held on stoically - the kind of attitude we could benefit from now.
Few fans would be surprised to hear Lee Naylor's name read out in the starting XI tomorrow. We don't want to make a scapegoat of the former Celtic man, but performances have been poor and we have to sort out our ailing defence. There are options, the only question is how long before Dave Jones actually uses them.