Cardiff face Leeds in the Sky Bet Championship on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.
Cardiff boss Neil Harris would not disclose who was unavailable for his team’s clash with Championship leaders Leeds on Sunday. The Welsh side sit ninth in the table but are only two points adrift of Preston in the final play-off place with nine matches remaining.
Harris did not want to give Marcelo Bielsa any ideas of his line-up as he kept his cards close to his chest during his pre-match press conference. Greg Cunningham returned to training on Tuesday after a lengthy knee injury so is unlikely to be risked, while Harris hinted Joe Bennett is set to start at left-back ahead of Brad Smith.
Leeds will be without midfielder Pablo Hernandez and striker Jean-Kevin Augustin for the trip to south Wales. Hernandez had a setback in preparation for the Championship’s resumption and is scheduled to return to training next Wednesday.
On-loan RB Leipzig forward Augustin, who has made only three substitute appearances since joining in January, will continue “necessary” individual fitness workouts and will be absent from the squad. Midfielder Adam Forshaw is expected to miss the final nine games of the season with the hip problem which has sidelined him since September.
With a little over 100 days since the last round of Championship fixtures, recent form will count for little in the nine games that remain. However, prior to football’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, Cardiff beat Barnsley 2-0 at Oakwell, while Leeds extended their winning streak to five games with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.
What the managers said…
Cardiff’s Neil Harris: “Leeds deserve to be top of the league, because they’ve been the most consistent team over the course of the season so far. We respect that; they have some fantastic players, have invested heavily in the set-up there and have gone all out to be promoted.
“It’s a great test for us and we look forward to it. When you start fresh and look to build, you want to put down a marker. If we play to our capabilities and put in a performance on the day, we’ve got a chance to put down that marker for the rest of the season.”
Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa: “Even though we have had a long period of time working on the physical preparation and after one month with tactical and technical work, is not like a normal pre-season. It is not the same as starting in the first match and thinking after we have 46 matches.
“This is not a problem for us, it is a situation everybody has to face without exception. The football we are going to play is not the same football as before, for this reason it is very important to wait for the matches to be played before analysing our performance. The more important thing is the mental adaptation of the players to the new environment and situation.”
This is the first league meeting between Cardiff and Leeds at the Cardiff City Stadium since September 2017, a 3-1 win for the Bluebirds under Neil Warnock.
Leeds have taken just one point from their last four league games against Cardiff (D1 L3), drawing 3-3 having been 3-0 up in the reverse fixture this season.
This will be the first time Cardiff have hosted Leeds for a match on a Sunday since winning 2-1 in an FA Cup tie at Ninian Park in January 2002 when Leeds were top of the Premier League.
Leeds have won each of their last five league games without conceding a single goal. The Whites have achieved this feat on four other previous occasions, most recently in December 2009 – they have never won six straight league games without conceding.
Cardiff have picked up six draws in their last eight league games on home soil (W1 D1) – no side has drawn more home games in the Championship this season (8).
Leeds have won more points from their last six games (16) than any other Championship team.
Cardiff are one of the many sides queuing up just outside the play-offs, and Neil Harris would love to lay down a marker with a big win against Leeds.
Leeds have a seven-point lead over Fulham in third, and any fears about their small squad tiring for the run-in may well have been helped by the suspension. They should be fit and firing for this one. Away win.
David Prutton predicts: 1-2 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Source : Sky Sports