RUSSELL: TWO HOME WINS THE TARGET
Manager calls for a strong finish to '14/15 at CCS
Cardiff City manager Russell Slade will lead his side in their penultimate home match of the season as Millwall visit Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Battling to avoid the drop, Neil Harris’s Lions won at home to Wigan in midweek, so the Bluebirds boss admits he is anticipating a challenging encounter despite the visitors’ lowly standing in the table.
“I don’t think this will be a dissimilar challenge to Tuesday,” Russell said on Friday morning. “Millwall will play with a real tempo and urgency, and since Neil has taken over, I think that statistically the effort they are putting in as a group is very good.
“That has made them very competitive over the last couple of games, and they’ve picked up some positive results. We know that it will be a tough game, because they are working especially hard to retain their Championship status.
“They will certainly feel the pressure, but they seem like they are up for the challenge; whether or not that has come a little bit too late remains to be seen. There’s certainly light at the end of the tunnel, and with the dispute over the ineligible Rotherham player - that could still have a massage impact. I’m sure Millwall have a big interest in the events going on with that. They have to win, so I think the game ought to be a fairly open affair.
“We want to finish on the most positive note at home as we possibly can, and to do that we need two wins. We have to make progress and win football matches. It has to be a pure focus on what we ourselves are doing. They are professional athletes and the players must show great concentration, and to be fair to the group that’s exactly what they’ve done. It’s all about next season for us now, and getting the right preparation in for that.
Russell also brought good news regarding the long-term Bluebird absentees, with Anthony Pilkington making a return to action off the bench at Ipswich.
“We had Anthony Pilkington back on Tuesday, and he is a quality player, the sort you need around your group. For him to get the shirt on for 15 minutes on Tuesday was refreshing; it was good to see. We’ll endeavour to give him a few more minutes with the first team and the Under-21s before the end of the season.
“We did the same with Joe Mason, who’s made great strides with the first-team squad. Kagisho Dikgacoi and Ben Turner will play more, but it remains to be seen if they’ll be involved with the first-team. We have one or two slight injuries but nothing major coming out of Tuesday.
“I’m looking for progress right until the end. Even in the defeat on Tuesday I saw a lot of positives, as we were very competitive against a promotion-chasing side. We want to be winning in front of our own fans, and it’s important that when teams come to Cardiff City and experience a fear factor.”