Luton vs Cardiff City (preview)
Cardiff City make the trip to Kenilworth Road for the first game of 2007 to face Mike Newell's Luton Town. The Hatters enjoyed a good start to the season but have tailed off and a run of seven straight defeats mid-season has seen them drop to just above the relegation zone. Their form has remained erratic of late and they have 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats in their previous six games. A late Neil Danns goal saved Birmingham from losing to Luton for the second time this season in their latest game with the Hatters unlucky not to beat the Championship leaders.
Finnish defender Markus Heikkinen suffered a horrific-looking leg injury during that game and was expected to be sidelined for the season but the injury is not as serious as first feared. Heikkinen will miss the Cardiff visit with Peter Holmes partnering Chris Coyne in defence. Fellow defender Lewis Emanuel is also struggling with Sol Davis in-line to start his first game since a stroke en route to play Ipswich Town in October.
In Rowan Vine, Luton have one of the most impressive players to visit Ninian Park this season, Luton were outplayed in a 4-1 win for the Bluebirds but Vine stood out as a potent attacking threat and scored the consolation goal for his side and looked a cut above his team-mates. The striker has 12 goals so far this season including a goal in each of his side's last three games.
Cardiff City have concerns over Paul Parry who missed the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace and Michael Chopra who picked up a knock during the game. Willo flood will again deputise for Parry after impressing whilst Chopra's absence is more worrying should he fail to recover in time with only Kevin Campbell fit to replace him. Dave Jones has 6 youngsters in mind to cover for Chopra whilst Luigi Glombard is still out with a hamstring injury. Youngster Jamal Easter could make his league debut for the Bluebirds.
Cardiff need a result to halt a run of 9 games without a win and desperately need to turn some of their draws into wins. The game comes on the back of improved performances for City and they have been creating more chances in recent weeks. The played have been putting in extra training sessions over the festive period and the confidence and form has been returning. Cardiff slipped out of the play-off positions for the first time and will desperately be looking to regain their momentum before losing pace with the other teams.