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Journalist talks Bluebirds vs Mackems, his fears for Sunderland, Halford & why Cardiff will win

In this week’s Fan Focus we catch up with Cardiff-based journalist Josh Slack of Inside Wales Sport to get his perspective ahead of this afternoon’s massive game in South Wales.

Reading v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

RF: Cardiff have continued their strong start to the season and sit in third place. Their form at the minute isn’t great though, having lost four on the bounce. Has that altered the mood around the club? How are fans expecting the rest of the season to pan out?

JS: Most certainly yes, but every club goes through a bad patch every now and then - and I still think even Wolves will have one, despite them looking like they’re going to run away with the Championship this season.

With Warnock in charge I think Cardiff still have a great chance of going up to the Premier League, but if they’re going to challenge I think a few extra additions will be needed in January to bulk up the squad, as they’re certainly lacking in some areas and it has been goals which have been the problem over the festive period.

I think a play-off spot come the end of the season is the best the Bluebirds faithful can hope for at the moment, though. Especially taking into consideration the mini injury crisis they’re currently enduring.

2017 EFL Championship Football Cardiff City v Fulham Dec 26th
Neil Warnock is once again proving his worth in this division, with The Bluebirds flying high in third place
Photo by Paul Jenkins/Action Plus via Getty Images

RF: The transfer window is open and Neil Warnock enjoys moving and shaking in the market. Do you see many incomings this month and if so, in which positions?

JS: There are definitely areas for the Bluebirds to improve on in January. I think they are still short of another back-up defender as Bruno Manga has been unusually inconsistent so far this season.

Another combative midfielder and winger wouldn’t go amiss too, with Aron Gunnarssson and Kadeem Harris nursing injuries.

RF: I noticed that Greg Halford played in midfield for Cardiff last week?! Considering he had a very unsuccessful spell on Wearside, I’m naturally worried that he’ll play like Xavi this Saturday and tear us apart. Is he likely to be involved and what are the Bluebirds fans making of him?

JS: You won’t have to worry about Greg Halford at all!

Warnock will be keen to put an attacking line-up out Saturday in the hope that the Bluebirds can put an end to this sticky patch of form. He is good in terms of versatility, but there is nothing much else you can say about Halford really.

2017 EFL Championship Football Cardiff City v Hull City Dec 16th
After an unsuccessful spell at Sunderland, Greg Halford is in the Cardiff ranks these days and he even made an appearance in central midfield last week!
Photo by Nathan Munkley/Action Plus via Getty Images

RF: The goals have been nicely shared out amongst the Cardiff squad this season, meaning our leaky defence will have plenty to worry about. Who are the standouts at the moment though? Anyone in good form?

JS: Well, the Bluebirds have been deprived of confidence in recent weeks in terms of in an attacking sense. However, if you had to pick out a player who could cause you problems, it would have to be Lee Tomlin. The former Bristol City man has been in sublime form in recent weeks, and can change a game in an instance.

Other than Tomlin, Rhys Healey has looked sharp since his lengthy spell he spent out through injury.

RF: Even though we can barely put a team out at the minute, is there anyone in the Sunderland side you can see hurting Cardiff?

JS: It is a real shame Lewis Grabban has gone back to Bournemouth because he looked as though his goals could have kept you up!

You have had a nightmare in terms of injuries this season, with the talented Duncan Watmore being out too. Callum McManaman’s pace and trickery could cause the Cardiff full-backs some problems, though. There is no doubt about that.

Sunderland v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship
Callum McManaman has struggled to get going on Wearside but Josh reckons he could do the Bluebirds some damage on Saturday
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RF: What will Warnock’s approach be in this match and what do you think his starting line up will be?

JS: He’ll want to put this one to bed early on, but I think Sunderland will make it tough and try to stifle the Bluebirds attacking line.

I can see the starting XI being the following: Etheridge, Bennett, Bamba, Morrison, Paterson, Ralls, Mendez-Laing, Hoilett, Tomlin, Healey and Zohore, with the Cardiff manager opting for two up-front against the Black Cats.

RF: How do you see the game going? Let’s have a score prediction.

JS: Cardiff need to win. I am going for an ugly 2-0 win, with Morrison and Tomlin to score.

You can check out Josh’s work over on Inside Wales Sport and follow him on Twitter.

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