Difficult Connolly vs McNaughton Call For Malky
Cardiff City will welcome back versatile defender Matthew Connolly to the squad to face Millwall after the former Arsenal and QPR man served his 1-match automatic suspension against Palace. Experienced full-back Kevin McNaughton was the obvious man to replace Connolly, having also stepped in vs Peterborough when Connolly was required to cover Mark Hudson's suspension.
Stepping back in against Peterborough, McNaughton was not at his best - like several others in the side that day. We didn't deserve to win the game and Super Kev looked short of fitness and his touch was not quite up to his standards. Hudson was always a certainty to be restored after his ban but it was also no surprise that Connolly reverted to right-back with McNaughton dropping to the bench.
However, it was a different story against Palace and the former Aberdeen man was one of City's standout players. After a dodgy opening 30 minutes for the entire Bluebirds side, McNaughton got to grips very well with the Eagles' attacking threat - especially Zaha and the growing frustrations of he and Bolasie were important as Palace lost their way and played into City's hands. McNaughton got stuck in, covered well and kept things fairly simple going forward. His distribution has been a concern and while several balls went astray, he rarely wasted good quality possession and can be very pleased with his efforts.
You could easily argue that McNaughton deserved to be in the starting XI - but after his Boxing Day performance, Mackay will rightly face a tricky decision between he and Connolly. McNaughton is a specialist right-back and a stalwart, playing almost every game when available since joining over six years ago! Connolly is more adept as a centre-half but has an excellent technique and footballing brain. he has proven himself entirely able to operate as a full-back. With the likes of Craig Noone ahead of him, he is not required to attack so much as other fullbacks, while his added height is a huge bonus both when attacking or defending set-pieces.
There is competition all across the City squad at the moment, although full-back is probably the weakest area in that regard. Nevertheless, for tomorrow's clash with Millwall it is the right-back selection dilemma that will be most difficult for Malky Mackay.