Cardiff City have a host of selection problems ahead of tonight`s trip to face West Brom, the most significant being the automatic 1 match ban handed to Jay Bothroyd following his fifth caution of the season. Of all our players, Bothroyd is the one who holds the team together and is critical to the system we play. He will miss out, while Joe Ledley and Michael Chopra face late fitness tests.
The Chopra & McCormack partnership has not looked suitable so far, and would be a giant risk when taking on a classy WBA outfit on their home patch. That said, there are few other options available to Dave Jones – save for the inclusion of on-loan Manchester City starlet Kelvin Etuhu but the forward is yet to impress for City and has not found a clear role in the side, often preferring to operate in a wide role.
Therefore, a rare change in formation is plausible for Dave Jones, especially given the return to contention of Riccy Scimeca, able to balance the midfield and protect the back four. As such, a midfield 5 is a clear possibility with Gavin Rae recalled to the starting line-up. Personally, I`d select Rae, Scimeca and Whittingham in the centre with Whitts given some license to roam. If Chopra is fit, he should lead the line with McCormack (left) and Chris Burke (right) providing width and support to the lone frontman. These two would be crucial to get forward, but also draw out the centre-halves and allow Whittingham space around the D.
Should Chopra not be fit, we have a problem. McCormack is not suited to lead the line alone, preferring to come deeper and run with the ball. In that case, Kelvin Etuhu could feature in attack, but have license to switch with Ross at times. Alternatively, Dave Jones may chose to use a diamond formation with Scimeca at the base and McCormack or Whittingham at the tip.
Although we are depleted, and without the key figure of Bothroyd – Cardiff City fans should feel spoilt that we have players of the quality of McCormack and Rae to come from the bench, not forgetting that both of those were near ever-presents last season. We do have considerable firepower in reserve, with Whittingham and Chris Burke also showing a goalscoring touch. Nonetheless, a point would be a good result !