Sheff Wed vs Cardiff (preview)
Cardiff City travel to Sheffield Wednesday looking to overcome the slight dip in form and performance of late. The Bluebirds have faltered slightly amid losses to Colchester and QPR but remain top of the Championship on goal difference from Preston North End.
Sheffield Wednesday are without midfielders Wade Small and Chris Brunt after both were dismissed during the Owls` defeat by Coventry City. The club appealed against both dismissals but were rejected by the FA panel and the duo are ruled out of the Cardiff clash. Owls boss Brian Laws dipped into the loan market to cover their absence and completed the signing of wideman Wayne Andrews from Coventry. American Burton O`Brien will switch to the left side of midfield while Folly and former Crewe star Kenny Lunt will form a creative midfield partnership. Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay (6 goals this season) should start up front.
The Owls are in reasonable form winning 4 of their last 6 home matches but have played few of the top sides so far this campaign and lie in 17th place in the table. They are however likely to miss the flair of Chris Brunt in midfield, a cultured left-footer capable of tremendous goals and a source of creativity on the left.
Cardiff City also made a loan signing with the arrival of Alan Wright on loan from Sheffield United adding depth to their stretched back-line. Wright could come in for Chris Gunter (with Kevin McNaughton switching to the right) but Jones may stick with the youngster at right back after a solid debut against QPR where Gunter held his own against £10million rated Lee Cook. Wright`s inclusion is likely to be the only change to the squad beaten by QPR as Willo Flood is still struggling with a thigh injury. Steven Thompson will have benefited from a weeks intense training after recently recovering from an Achilles operation as he partners Michael Chopra up-front.
The game will be Brian Laws` first in charge at Hillsborough after Paul Sturrock`s departure and a good crowd is expected. Cardiff fans will be closely marshalled by South Wales and North Yorkshire Police after productive meetings with supporters groups and setting a far better example to West Midlands Police Force after their recent lack of faith in their own competence.
Cardiff look for a win to lift them after dips in performance of late, they will try to start quickly and maintain a high tempo with the fast passing and movement that has seen them rise to the Championship summit. Sheffield are a decent side and will make it tough for the Bluebirds whilst they have players of genuine talent in their squad. The Owls defence can be shaky and they have just 2 clean sheets all season but will be out to gun down the leaders and can take heart from recent wins for Colchester and Norwich on their home patches.
Prediction: A low scoring contest for a 1-1 draw???