Cardiff look to leave town in party mood

IN-form Cardiff City visit Portman Road tomorrow looking to leave in party mood while Ipswich will be hoping to give them an early hangover.

Derek Davis

IN-form Cardiff City visit Portman Road tomorrow looking to leave in party mood while Ipswich will be hoping to give them an early hangover.

Both sets of players set off for their respective Christmas nights out immediately after the Championship clash each hoping to be in or around the play off places.

Cardiff are due to fly in to East Anglia today and will be whisked away to a secret destination around the same time as the Blues first team squad jet across to Dublin.

If Town win they will move above the Bluebirds on goal-difference, while Cardiff are looking for all three points to cement their place in the top six.

The Welsh side have crept into the play-off places after losing just one of their past six games, a 2-1 defeat at Plymouth and have scored twice in all the other five games.

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City have been boosted by striker Jay Boothroyd's response to treatment after he limped out of the Burnley game with knee ligament damage after scoring his fourth goal fro the club but is now tipped to be fit to play against Ipswich.

Skipper Stephen McPhail is looking to reclaim his place in central midfield after serving a two-match ban, but manager Dave Jones must decide whether to disrupt his central midfield to accommodate the Irish international.

Cardiff lad Joe Ledley, a reported £6m target for Everton, has produced two solid displays in a new role of captain and central midfield player, while Gavin Rae bounced back to form during the 2-0 win against Preston North End and the 2-2 draw at Burnley.

Jones said: “Stephen sets the tempo for our team, he is the catalyst for everything we do.”

Ledley and Rae played a key role for City together through the middle, but McPhail is capable of adding quality in possession and a range of creative passing although he is often criticised for being too negative through the middle.

The lack of goals from central midfield - neither Rae or McPhail have scored this season - is another problem for City. Yet there is no doubt the McPhail/Rae partnership is potentially the best if they can find a balance.

That would release Ledley to play wide on the left and link up with Mark Kennedy, although Paul Parry has produced hard-running performances over the last two matches and has hurt Town in the past.

City are without Ross McCormack, who has a hamstring tear, and that leaves Michael Chopra, Eddie Johnson and Parry the trio challenging to start against the Blues.

Ledley has been proud to be City captain over the last two matches, but believes he will hand the armband back to McPhail at Ipswich.

The Wales international said: “It's been great to captain Cardiff City, but I'm ready to hand it back when Macca or Darren Purse are return.”

City tend to score in every game and in 13 of their 24 games this season have scored twice.