Hudson Fit For Cardiff City, But Should He Play ?
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones has clarified the situation regarding defender Mark Hudson as the Bluebirds prepare to face Reading in the Championship play-off semi-final first leg on Friday. The former Charlton Athletic man and club captain was brought off early in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Burnley over the weekend, amid fears he had suffered an injury recurrence.
Hudson missed over a month of action through March and April having suffered knee ligament damage. He was injured shortly before halftime in the 3-3 draw with Millwall. The score was still 0-0 at that stage, and our defence certainly looked shakier with Gyepes in the defence rather than Hudson. The towering central defender was unconvincing in his first season with the Bluebirds, looking slow and error-prone. However, this season he improved dramatically and his aerial presence, and well times sliding challenges have impressed.
The Hudson injury was untimely for Cardiff City, and while McNaughton never lets us down, centre-half is not his position. Gabor Gyepes looks to have been completely frozen out by Dave Jones, and has lacked any form or confidence in over a year while it seems Darcy Blake will not be restored to centre-half despite last season`s form - and is instead employed as a full-back.
Unfortunately, Hudson was only fit to return two weeks ago and kept a clean sheet after replacing McNaughton at half time against lowly Preston North End. He missed the disturbing 3-0 defeat by Middlesbrough with McNaughton fit to continue before lasting just 30 minutes of the 1-1 at Burnley. That`s just 75 minutes of action in over a month, and having missed a good deal of football. Hudson looked in difficulty and a yard off the pace until he was withdrawn so doubts remain as to what impression he can make in the play-offs.
There`s no room for error in the play-offs and one mistake can lead to failure. It would be foolish to pick an unfit player, whether through injury or lack of match fitness - the margins are just too tight. Dave Jones must keep a close eye on Hudson in training this week - a fully fit Hudson would be a big boost, otherwise Jones must decide whether to risk him, or pick someone else to partner Dekel Keinan.