Harris | We need another strong showing
Manager Neil Harris has called on his Bluebirds to follow up the statement made at Sheffield Wednesday with another strong performance at QPR this New Year’s Day.
City go into the fixture at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium unbeaten in four and knowing that victory could propel them into the Play-Off places if results elsewhere are favourable.
And speaking ahead of the game, Neil reflected on the good work done leading into the match and the importance of maintaining good form and momentum into 2020.
“I asked for the boys to make a statement at Sheffield Wednesday and they delivered,” he reflected. “It was a strong performance and we saw some really good football on the day.
“We had two solid home draws either side of Christmas that we backed up with an excellent away win; now we have to follow up the three points we took at Hillsborough with another strong performance at QPR.
“It is a difficult place to go and QPR will be smarting from their defeat last time out, so we’ll need to be every bit as good there as we were last time out at Sheffield Wednesday.”
Despite the heroics in South Yorkshire on Sunday, City were plagued by injuries that saw Joe Bennett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing substituted ahead of the interval.
And whilst the manager has stated that neither will figure in West London this afternoon, the longer-term prognosis for both players is more optimistic.
“Joe Bennett hasn’t got any long-term damage to his eye, but the trip to QPR is going to come too soon for him,” Neil continued. “His left eye is still swollen, and he can’t see out of it at the moment, whilst you obviously can’t risk any physical contact to his head with that kind of injury. It was a nasty whack, but fortunately no long-term damage for Joe.
“[Nathaniel] Mendez [-Laing] has gone for a scan on his hamstring so we know he won’t be involved tomorrow or against Carlisle in the Cup; we’ll have to see how he goes ahead of the derby with Swansea next week. Lee Peltier [who missed the Sheffield Wednesday game] has been doing really well though and he’ll be with the group, looking to be involved.
“Some of the lads who haven’t played a lot of football over the past few months but have come in in recent weeks will obviously need to be looked at too. Sol [Bamba], for example, came in and played 50 to 60 minutes at QPR and that saw us go to five at the back. It’s not a tactic that the boys are that used to, but it suited us in that game as a short-term fix and I felt we needed his experience on the pitch against Sheffield Wednesday’s strengths.”
City have tasted defeat just once since Neil took over back in mid-November, that being the slender 2-1 loss at Brentford towards the start of last month.
And whilst the manager has been pleased with a very solid return of results, he was sure to highlight that there was still room for improvement and warned against complacency as the lads kick-off the New Year this afternoon.
“Against Millwall we were outstanding with the ball from box-to-box but lacked creativity,” he reflected. “At Hillsborough we played some really good football, defended well as a unit and moved the ball well at times.
“We’re a work in progress, but four wins, four draws and one defeat is a solid return from nine games [since I took charge].
“I’ll always demand more from my group and staff, though. We have to follow up our recent performances now against QPR.”