Cardiff City midfielder Stephen McPhail is looking to bounce back from his latest set-back after a mixed year in which he has battled cancer, cracked ribs, ankle and knee injuries but seen him re-find his best form after a disappointing 2008/09 season.
Macca has been virtually a permanent fixture in the Bluebirds midfield during his 5 years at the club, playing alongside Riccy Scimeca, Gavin Rae or Joe Ledley. Now though, he faces a real battle to force his way into the side, despite Dave Jones switching to a formation which incorporates 3 central midfielders. Seyi Olofinjana has added a real physical presence and tocuh of class in front of the back four, and will surely play when available. That leaves McPhail battling with Manchester United loan star Danny Drinkwater and Peter Whittingham for the two central positions. Whitts has excelled since moving inside and will be difficult to displace. The likes of Koumas and Keogh make compelling cases to feature in an advanced midfield role if we look to attack, while players such as Gavin Rae, Sol Taiwo and Aaron Wildig look unlikely to see first team action.
McPhail agrees he will be hard pressed to break back in, and reluctantly conceded he would not restore himself to the line-up if he was manager. The Irish midfielder told the SW Echo:
“We all feel this is the season, there are no excuses for any of us. We have to look each other in the eye, trust in our team-mates and achieve the promotion every Bluebirds fan craves.”
“It`s the next step for this squad. We`ve missed out narrowly over the last couple of seasons, but our task each time has been to improve and we are focused on that again.”
“We have the players to go out and beat teams. That`s how we feel. When I look round our dressing room there is quality in every position and the boys are really upbeat about what we can achieve.”
“The players in our starting line-up have done a cracking job and if I was the gaffer, I wouldn`t chance a thing.”
There has been talk of a loan move for Stephen McPhail, who is lacking match fitness after missing the summer and hobbling out of the pre-season defeat at Notts County. Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane is known to be interested in his compatriot but it seems highly unlikely Cardiff City would allow him to leave for longer than a short spell. Most people would immediately restore McPhail in case of injury to Whitts, Drinkwater or Olofinjana and the thought of McPhail supplying through balls for the likes of Bellamy, Chopra and Burke is hugely appealing.
Join Vital Cardiff
It’s easy to sign up for Vital CARDIFF CITY.