Southend vs Cardiff (preview)
Cardiff City travel to Roots Hall to face Championship newcomers in a match televised live on Sky. The match has been moved to 1.15pm on Sunday and will be shown on Sky Sports 2.
The Shrimpers have struggled slightly in the Championship but look a well drilled team capable of picking up important points. Consecutive draws with Norwich and West Brom highlight their credentials and Southend are unbeaten in 4 games now after a 3-2 win over Brighton HA in the Carling Cup with 4 of the 5 goals coming in the final 5 minutes.
Boss Steve Tilson has the team well drilled and in Freddie Eastwood they have a proven goalscorer, 6 goals already this season. Michael Ricketts could be selected to partner Eastwood up front and the former Bluebirds loanee will be looking for his first goal for his new club. Ricketts played at Ninian Park on loan from Leeds United last season and scored 5 goals in 17 appearances. Ricketts didn`t make a huge impact to the team but he certainly did the short term job he was brought in to do, strong and direct Ricketts can cause problems for any defence and whilst the form that earned him an England call up in 2003 is no longer present, Ricketts is experienced and proven at this level.
Another former Bluebird now plays his football at Roots Hall in ex-City centre back Spencer Prior. Prior joined the Bluebirds in 2001 and spent 3 years with the club, his highlight being the promotion season where Cardiff conceded no goals in the three play-off games. Prior recently made surprising comments to the press regarding unfair targeting from Cardiff City fans. Prior believes he was treated less favourably by the Ninian faithful as a direct result of being English. Prior did receive some stick but his nationality seems far from the root of it. Cardiff fans have always favoured a player who shows 100% commitment and challenges for every ball even when they possess less talent than another player. Prior was extremely error-prone in Cardiff`s defence and angered fans by simply falling to the ground whenever a player beat him for pace (which occurred frequently). Danny Gabbidon was often around to cover but the fact remains that Prior failed to live up to his reputation or his whopping £700000 price tag. Any comments relating his treatment to his nationality appear way of the mark given that Thorne, Bonner, Whalley etc all played in the same team and Boland or Jeff Eckhardt perhaps did not posses the talent but always gave 100%. Prior believed that Welsh players were automatically preferred to English again seems fanciful give Rhys Weston`s difficulties in overcoming the NP boo-boys. Sorry Spencer but it just seems you are making excuses, the comments were ill-advised and particularly redundant given that Prior will sit out the match injured.
Cardiff should start with their first choice line-up again with striker Michael Chopra in hot form with 4 goals in 2 games. Joe Ledley is still experiencing some discomfort with an infected toe but will be fit to play. The other on-form player to watch is Paul Parry, rejuvenated after summer speculation linking him with a move away, Parry`s performances have been exemplary and he is playing with real confidence and pace.
With Birmingham City facing managerless Leeds, Cardiff could do with a result and a win would almost certainly keep the top spot for the Bluebirds