Solid Return For Cardiff City Starlet Ralls
Cardiff City's mounting injury list meant a surprise return for talented youngster Joe Ralls to the bench when Hull City visited CCS last weekend. Ralls, Kiss, Conway and Frei provided midfield cover from the bench so he would not have expected to feature - though was presumably gald to return to the matchday squad.
However, injury to right back Kevin McNaughton was unforeseen and the only position on the field for which specialist cover was not available. He and Connolly have shared the right-back duties following the departure of Darcy Blake but with Connolly ruled out, and McNaughton injured during the game - City turned to Aron Gunnarsson to fill in.
That left a gap in midfield, which was initially filled by Slovakian Filip Kiss - another casualty of Mackay's star-studded squad who was only selected in the matchday sixteen following injuries to Tommy Smith, Craig Bellamy, Jordon Mutch and Don Cowie. Kiss lasted just 25 minutes before being withdrawn at the break. There has been talk of a hamstring injury but the replacement may also have been due to tactical reasons as we lacked any presence in midfield and were over-run by the Tigers.
Ralls, however, did a good job. He recognised that he was not required to add creativity or flair with Whittingham, Noone and Kim alongside him. Instead, he kept things simple, tidy but covered a lot of ground and did a good job for his side. It was only his 2nd league appearance of the season but his only other 10 minute cameo came way back in August - replacing Jordon Mutch for the final minutes of a 4-2 win over Bristol City.
As it happens, it was against Hull City that Ralls made his first ever league appearance - a debut not to be forgotten as he smashed a stunning goal - but City eventually lost the game 2-1. It was this time last year that Ralls enjoyed a prolonged run in the first team, making regular substitutes appearances through November before gaining a starting position in December through to the New Year. Even with City's lengthy injury list - that sort of run seems unlikely this season and Ralls seemed a good candidate for a loan spell to gain some valuable first team experience.
However, we need Ralls available at the moment and he showed he can certainly do a job. He is young, but reads the game well and certainly has the technical ability to make an impression at this level.