Manager cites opportunity for team to shine in coming week
Speaking ahead of two quick-fire Sky Bet Championship clashes against high flying sides Brentford and AFC Bournemouth, Cardiff City manager Russell Slade has set his players the target of achieving an average of two points a game from their ten remaining league fixtures.
“We’ve got two really big tests coming up against Brentford and Bournemouth,” Russell said in his Friday morning press conference. “We couldn’t get near Brentford in the first half of the game at home, but came back strongly in the second, and probably could have got something out of the game.
“The game at Bournemouth was topsy-turvy, and we were in that until the last ten minutes. When we’ve played the top six or seven this season, we’ve often come out the wrong side of it. I’m looking forward to these fixtures as they will give us a test to prove ourselves and show the progress we’ve made since those games just before Christmas.
Mark Warburton’s Brentford represent the first challenge of a three-game week, and provide the Bluebirds with a chance of continuing their recent fine away form.
“Probably at home, Brentford have played with even more freedom than they do away from home,” Russell said. “If they’re going to get one of those play-off slots, then they’ve got to go and win games.
“I think it could be a very open game on Saturday. They’ve got threats, whether or not they go with Alex Pritchard, who I know an awful lot about. Quite a few of their players were with them in League 1, while Andre Gray is a threat up front having come in; Jonny Douglas is still getting forward, and is a big part of what they do.
“Our away record has been poor, but it’s starting to gradually improve now. We’ve not backed up those two away wins with a victory at home, which would have changed things dramatically for us.
“We’re facing two clubs now who are challenging for promotion to the Premier League. It’ll be two very difficult games for us. The players are well aware that these last ten games are important for a lot of reasons. They saw the restructuring going on in January, and know that it’s important that they work hard if they want to be part of that process going forward.”
The Gaffer went on to reveal that while City skipper David Marshall remained a doubt for the trip to Griffin Park, the Bluebirds would have no qualms about fielding Simon Moore against his former club.
“With David, what we’re trying to avoid is any long-term injury, so he remains a doubt,” he said. “Aron Gunnarsson is fine, while there’s one or two further niggles, but we’ll know a little bit more later today.
“It’s all about David’s kicking game, and avoiding him aggravating that muscle between the leg and the groin. For that reason there’s a strong possibility of Simon Moore playing against his former side. He’s been excellent every time he’s been called upon, and he’s done himself a great credit under me this season.
“Both Joe Mason and Kagisho Dikgacoi have done light training over the last week. Joe is making good progress, and we’ll be looking to get him some kind of game in the next seven says. Dikgacoi is about ten days behind Joe, and won’t be playing any competitive games for about ten days or so.
“Anthony Pilkington isn’t training with us yet, but he is out running. I’ve only had Pilks at my disposal for four or five games, while the other two haven’t kicked a ball for me, so that was quite good news, to have two players of that calibre coming into the group.
“It’ll be nice to have them back in, because it’ll give me a better picture of what I’ll have going into the summer. You’ve got to have your short-term objectives, but also keep an eye on where you’re going in the long-term.”
And to end, Russell admitted his pleasure at the reaction to the Club’s new crest, praising it as something which Cardiff City fans can be excited about in the coming summer.
For a preview of Russell's pre-Brentford media conference, click the link below. The full conference can be viewed now, on
Cardiff City Player
“The new badge seems to have gone down well,” he reflected. “We’ll have a new shirt to go with that next season, so all things are good on that front; it’s very exciting for this Football Club.”