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Fan Focus - Cardiff: “Sunderland’s biggest threat? James Vaughan, of course!”

Today’s Fan Focus guest is Inside Wales Sport journalist Josh Slack, who seems quietly confident that Neil Warnock’s side can come away from Wearside with three points this weekend.

Cardiff City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

RR: Cardiff are enjoying a pretty solid start to the season and given they have a manager who knows exactly what to do get a team promoted, there most be a positive vibe about the season ahead?

JS: Absolutely. Warnock has been there and done it all before, if he gets the Bluebirds promoted this season it would be his record eighth promotion. I don’t think he’ll be getting ahead of himself, though. A win-less run in three proves how tough this division can be and that anyone can beat anyone.

RR: Was challenging for the automatic promotion spots always the expectation going into the season, for Cardiff? Or have expectations altered given the positive way things are going?

JS: I don’t think so at all. If you look at some of the sides that come down from the Premier League – this is probably the strongest the Championship has been for some time. You’ve also got the likes of Sheffield United who got promoted and they have also done exceptionally well so far so I’d say expectations have altered slightly but still think play-offs will be Warnock’s ambition moving forward, and I don’t think the start is much of a surprise given his experience and there is a strong positive mentality which has been instilled into the players.

Derby County v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

RR: Could we have an update on Vincent Tan? The last time the two sides met was in the Premier League of course and it was when the vitriol directed at him was arguably at its height. It seems surprising that he's still at the club and while I'm sure the level of resentment remains the same, what's happening exactly? Do you see new ownership on the horizon?

JS: Tan has seemed to get the supporters on his side now. He was seen earlier in the season having pictures with them at the Aston Villa game and he seems to have a really good bond with manager Neil Warnock. Obviously nobody can forget that he changed the Bluebirds from blue to red, but that seems to have all been forgotten about, for now. Also, I don’t new ownership on the horizon. As long as Warnock stays, I think Tan will as well.

RR: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has already got a few goals under his belt, so he'll fancy his chances against our leaky defence. Is he the main danger man for Cardiff or is there someone else we should be keeping an eye on?

JS: He’s been sensational and what a coup from Warnock to pick him up on a free from Rochdale. There are other players to watch out for as well, Junior Hoilett has also enjoyed a tremendous start to the season and I think its helped that he had just played in the Gold Cup for Canada prior to the season started.

Rochdale v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing - signed from Rochdale - has been a success.
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

RR: Is there anyone in particular worrying you in the Sunderland side, going into the game? Any weaknesses to exploit?

JS: I do certainly think there are weaknesses that our wingers can exploit. Warnock’s side struggled to get any joy against Sheffield Wednesday but think Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing may find more space on Saturday at the Stadium of Light. As for the player who could pose the most danger, I think you have to say James Vaughan – a good physical striker.

RR: How do you see Warnock approaching the game and what do you expecting the starting line up to be?

JS: I think Warnock may go for this one from the off. Sunderland have endured a strenuous start to the season and he’ll want to exploit that. As for the starting line-up, I can see Lee Tomlin coming in to fresh things up. Craig Bryson should retain his place following his impressive showing on his home debut. Zohore may be rested as well, he’s looked a little jaded in recent weeks.

RR: Finally, a prediction please?

JS: It will be a close one, for sure but after that last minute goal against Wednesday, I think the Bluebirds will want to keep the momentum up – I am going for 2-1 Cardiff.