Date:Tuesday January 3 2012
Cardiff City have picked up two crucial festive wins over the past few days courtesy of a plucky away win over Nottingham Forest and followed up by a classy performance and 3-1 victory over Reading. Six priceless points for the Bluebirds over what looked to be two very tricky games.
City have played those two games without undoubtedly one of the key players and most consistent performers in Kevin McNaughton. The former Aberdeen man has been virtually ever present for City this term - even captaining the side on occasions. It has been another good season so far for McNaughton until he was forced off early against Watford and missed the two next games.
Darcy Blake was the man chosen to replace Mcnaughton, ahead of fellow Scottish right-back Paul Quinn who has barely featured under Malky Mackay. Blake is primarily a centre-half, but is extremely versatile and has played on both sides of defence and in midfield during his career.
Over the past two games, we have conceded just one goal and that coming down the City left flank when Reading winger Jimmy Kebe teed up Jobi McAnuff. Therefore, defensive - Blake has done well standing in for McNaughton. That has appeared to be the case, with some solid challenges and covering from the Welsh International.
However, one obvious weakness in Darcy's game of late has been his distribution. He has struggled to find a team-mate at times and endured a torrid opening 15 minutes against Reading when all his attempted passes seemed to go astray. He was not helped by the current formation, whereby Don Cowie operates in a 'tucked-in' role meaning the right back has no obvious outlet.
McNaughton's distribution is far from perfect but he is far more consistent and defensively able than Blake - and does get forward with some regularity, even if his final ball can lack quality.
Darcy Blake is fast approaching the point in his career whereby he must put behind his the tag of utility cover, and stake his claim for a regular starting position whether at Cardiff City or elsewhere. He knows he needs to improve on his passing, and is desperate for more chances. After coming into a the side having not played regularly - Blake has again proved reliable and effective cover. He deserves more chances to establish himself but has not yet shown enough to displace any of the current first choice starting XI.
We have plenty of competition at centre-back, while our usual system means that the full-backs are required to get forward and overlap to support the midfield. More quality will be needed if Blake is to play regularly at full-back.
Date:Tuesday January 3 2012
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