Malky Mackay addressed the press on Friday morning ahead of City’s FA Cup with Budweiser clash against Macclesfield Town. With wholesale changes expected Malky believes it will be a chance to examine the credentials of some of his younger professionals, alongside a few senior squad members.
“There will be a couple of experienced boys, but the majority of the team will be made up of players who are in my squad, but have not had a lot of first team football at the moment,” he confirmed.
“I’ve got the greatest respect for the FA Cup and was excited the very first day I played in it myself. I was fortunate enough to be involved with a group who got to the semi-finals against Manchester United at Villa Park. At the moment there are a few guys who have a higher risk of injury if they play another one in such a short space of time, so we need to freshen this group up.”
Regardless of the personnel changes or gap between both sides, the Cardiff boss is under no illusions of the challenge ahead. For that he wants his selected squad to stand up and be counted.
“We expect a really tough game tomorrow and it will be a test, it will be a good test that they will be looking forward to,” he said. “A lot of them have performed in recent games at Cardiff City Stadium, so it will be a different type of test for them, but it will be a tough one nevertheless. The development games have restrictions in it that there are only three players allowed over twenty one, so this is a case where they are playing against men.
“At times we have put our youngsters out at certain clubs to give them that maturity to try and strengthen and toughen them up, so that when they come back they look and feel like a man. It’s got that test about it as well and that’s because they are playing against men who want to get through to the next round of the FA Cup - that’s the stern test they will face.”
A level head in the squad will be that of experienced professional Stephen McPhail who leads the Bluebirds in tomorrow’s game, while travelling supporters will have an opportunity to take a closer look at Etien Velikonja.
“He’s a great lad Stephen and he’s got a lot of talent,” Malky said. “He has been an absolute gentleman since I’ve met him and someone who is a great ambassador for the football club. The medical staff have worked very hard with him over the last few months to get him back to a point where he can be playing at this level and I’m delighted he will be there to captain the team tomorrow.
“Etien’s someone who is a goal scorer once he gets into that eighteen yard box. He’s someone who plays off the shoulder, he’s someone that needed developing in terms of his physical attributes and he’s worked hard on that and worked hard in development games that he’s played.
“He’ll have his chance tomorrow and realises it’s such a different league to the Slovenian league. He’s had to strengthen up and he’s also had to wait behind very good strikers that are on form. He’s a lovely lad and he’s settled in well and he works hard. He just realises he needs to take his chance when he gets it, but at the moment it’s about nurturing him.”