Date: 31st July 2012 at 1:35pm
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Cardiff City midfielder Stephen McPhail looked little short of devastated when leaving the pitch shortly into his first pre-season action at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday. After taking to the field for the second half, he was withdrawn with what looked like a hamstring problem – and City were left to continue with just 10 men.

Little niggles are to be expected at this time of the season, but for Stephen McPhail it is a much bigger blow than to most. His age will be a factor, but the pre-season schedule was so important to McPhail this time around having missed the majority of the summer last season due to a flare-up of his longstanding Sjogren’s condition.

After sitting out pre-season, McPhail was effectively playing catch-up all season and as such his contribution and overall fitness was severely limited. It was thought that a full preparation this time around would allow him to feature more regularly, bringing a calming influence and huge amount of experience to a tyalented but relatively young midfield.

Hopefully, McPhail’s withdrawal was just a precaution and he can return to full training this week – ahead of another pre-season friendly against Cheltenham Town over the weekend. If anyone deserves some luck, Macca is right up there having conducted himself impeccably throughout his time at CCFC – despite long running battles with form, fitness, a stage one malt lymphoma and his underlying Sjogren’s syndrome.