Date: 25th April 2011 at 11:05am
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Cardiff City have been strongly advised that inspirational captain Craig Bellamy should not play in today’s promotion crunch clash against Preston North End after the measly 48 hour recovery period since the 2-2 draw with QPR.

Bellamy was withdrawn late on in that game, replaced by the returning Michael Chopra. There was no injury, but it was a hot day and we have played a congested fixture list of late. Now, Bellamy’s physio Raymond Verheije has suggested Bellamy is a ‘no go’ on physical grounds today, but did concede the prospect of securing automatic promotion may be enough to risk Bellamy.

Verheije is a strong critic of modern footballing coaching techniques, and is a strong advocate of planned conditioning and recovery period to protect players from burnout and un-necessary injury. He has worked closely with Bellamy all season, and the results have been exceptional. A player reknowned for knee problems, Bellamy has grown in fitness all season- and is currently at his peak of form and fitness – no coincidence.

Dave Jones would love to select Bellamy, but will desperately want his captain to avoid injury with 2 further critical games to come, and the prospect of play-offs if we cannot secure automatic promotion. To lose Craig for a month in a gamble at Preston would be incredibly frustrating.

Assuming Chopra is not ready for a start – the duties could be shared, but this would appear to go against Verheije’s advice as he regards Bellamy as an ‘all-or’nothing’ explosive player. Therefore, and first team action without the proper rest period puts him at risk. Naming him on the bench is an option, meaning he need not feature if we are on course to win.

An alternative is the use of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in attack, a viable alternative though Jones should also considier a fluid 4-5-1 formation with Whitts/Olofinjana and McPhail in a central three, with Emmanuel-Thomas (left) and Chris Burke (right) in advanced positions to support the lone striker Bothroyd.

Personally, I think we have to follow the advice of Verheije, The Dutchman may be outspoken and critical – but there is simply no arguing that he knows how to manage Bellamy’s fitness better than anyone else and we simply have to consider the bigger picture outside of today’s trip to Preston NE.

A blow to lose Bellamy for one game, but we do have options – and it will be a huge plus to have him back at full tilt for next Monday’s clash with Middlesbrough – after a full weeks rehabilitation. Bellamy must start on the bench, or outside the squad.