Just a short message to keep things up to date on the Cardiff City and Wales fronts as club football takes a weekend off. Starting with City, there has been mixed news regarding the three injuries picked up in last Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Millwall – both Jay Bothroyd and Paul Quinn should be available for selection for the visit of Derby County when Championship fixtures resume in eight days time, but Mark Hudson’s knee injury is going to keep him out for up to six weeks.
Hudson’s absence, along with Michael Chopra missing the rest of the season with injury he picked up against Barnsley and Aaron Ramsey’s return to Arsenal meant that Dave Jones could really have done with bringing in loan reinforcements in defence, midfield and attack before the transfer window closed for the final time yesterday. He was able to plug the defensive gap to a degree with the signing for the rest of the season of Bolton left back Jlloyd Samuel, but despite widespread speculation linking us with a move for Coventry striker, and all round good egg, Marlon King, there were no other new arrivals at Cardiff City Stadium on a day which saw the two sides better placed than us to take the second automatic promotion spot sign three strikers between them.
Presumably, twenty nine year old Samuel, whose contract with Bolton runs out in the summer, will slot into the team at left back with Kevin McNaughton moving infield to replace Hudson. He started his career at Aston Villa and earned a call up to the full England squad in 2004 but never got a cap for his adopted country and his two international appearances have been for the country of his birth – Trinidad and Tobago. It has to be said that reviews from both Villa and Bolton fans have been mixed, but, apart from a spell at Gillingham on loan before he broke into the Villa team, Samuel has played all of his club football in the Premiership over a period of nearly ten years during which he has clocked up two hundred and forty top flight appearances. Therefore, you would have thought that a twenty nine year old with a record like that should be a good signing for a Championship side, but the concern I have is that he has not played any first team football this season (firstly due to a thigh injury and then, because he had slipped to third in the left back pecking order at the Reebok) and there has to be a question as to whether he can successfully slot into a side chasing down promotion to the Premiership with so little match fitness.
Going on to Wales and their game against England tomorrow, I must admit that I have been quietly confident of a good performance and, perhaps, a draw from the match. There were a few reasons for this – e.g. the fact that England are not that good, we have a new young and highly respected (amongst the players) manager and that, lo and behold, virtually all of our players had reported in fit and raring to go this week. However, the news yesterday that Gareth Bale has had to drop out with a hamstring injury that was, apparently, picked up last week while with Spurs is a real blow for Welsh hopes. This setback, along with it, probably, being too early into new captain Aaron Ramsey’s top level comeback following injury for him to be at his best seriously reduces the chances of a positive result for Wales in my book. Even, allowing for this though, Wales can put out a competitive team now which would include a large majority of players from Premiership clubs. There is no way Wales should be number 116 in the world rankings with the talent they have available and it’s about time that the team started proving that whilst also showing the sort of pride in playing for their country that I believe supporters have a right to expect.