Bluebirds wary of semi-final hangover

AS much as Dave Jones is at pains to point out that his Cardiff side won't be distracted in their quest to reach the play-offs by an FA Cup Final date with Portsmouth, not everyone at Ninian Park seems to have got the message.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

AS much as Dave Jones is at pains to point out that his Cardiff side won't be distracted in their quest to reach the play-offs by an FA Cup Final date with Portsmouth, not everyone at Ninian Park seems to have got the message.

Instead of bringing players up for the pre-match press conference the Bluebirds presented singer/composer James Fox who gave the bemused media a rendition of their FA Cup Final song.


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This was in contrast to last week when the whole squad were available to the Press ahead of the semi-final at Wembley.

As Jones the manager tried to get his players focused on moving to within a point and still have a game in hand over Ipswich today he admitted it was not easy to come down after Joe Ledley hit the winner against Barnsley in Sunday's semi-final.

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Jones said: “Our biggest problem is avoiding an 'after the Lord Mayor's show' scenario.

"It's difficult, as it was last week and the week before, to keep the players' minds focused on the league.

"But now we've got to get back to it.

"We don't want to spoil it by just thinking, 'well, we've got an FA final coming up, so that's our season done and dusted'.

"That will be the hardest thing for us, and hopefully the players will react to what we say and kick on."

Blues boss Jim Magilton is hoping City have a huge cup hangover but is well aware that a laid back Cardiff side will be in town tonight.

He said: “Cardiff will come relaxed and ready to play with nothing to lose. They are in an FA Cup final and an outside chance of the play offs

They have a lot of good players. They are a good side and very solid.

“I hope they have spent a lot of energy and we can take advantage of then playing a tough game with al the mental and physical expenditure that take out of them and we have to go at them from the off and really take the game to them.”

Unable to bring in any players before the various transfer windows closed this year due to the possibility of going into administration had they lost a court case, City have a very thin squad.

They are not helped by injuries to Warren Feeney who is out until the summer after a hamstring was pulled from a bone, while Paul Parry also has a hamstring problem although he is hoping to be back in time for the cup final.

Another planning to be back in time is Robbie Fowler who went to America for a hip operation and has the final game of the season on May 4 in his sights for a full return to action.

The Bluebirds are thin up front and while Jones would like to rest the aging Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink he has few options, although Steve Thompson is being considered.

If Cardiff stick with Hasselbaink and Trevor Sinclair then their attack will have a combined age of 71.

That average could be considerably reduced if 17-year-old prodigy Aaron Ramsey is pressed into service up front. Wales Under-21 international Ramsey is usually a central midfielder, although has been used on the right wing and at right back and is rated so highly that Liverpool and Evertion have both made bids to buy him.

Full back Kevin McNaughton will have a late fitness test on a back problem and if he fails then his place will be taken by youngster Darcy Blake.

In goal is Finnish keeper Peter Enckleman who has kept eight clean sheets in his 13 loan games for city since signing on loan from Blackburn.

derek.davis@archant.co.uk

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