We’re into the final straight of this season’s first international break, with attention already poised to return to the ongoing domestic campaign.
Despite a disappointing defeat at the hands of Severnside rivals Bristol City last weekend, it’s been a largely positive start to the season for Cardiff City, who have taken a tally of eight points from their first five games.
Given their top-six ambitions, it’s a reasonable start, but Mick McCarthy will know the importance of bouncing back after a disappointing derby-day defeat.
The Bluebirds take on a Nottingham Forest side that, in contrast, have endured a torrid start to the new campaign, taking just one point so far – a tally that’s left them rooted to the bottom of the table.
Forest boss Chris Hughton may well be starting to feel a bit of pressure ahead of this contest at the City Ground, and already has a couple of notable injury concerns heading into Sunday’s clash, although McCarthy too could well be sweating on a couple of stars ahead of the trip to the east Midlands.
Here’s a full run down on where things stand…
Has endured a frustrating international break after having to pull out of Rob Page’s Wales squad due to Covid-19 concerns.
While the talismanic striker did not test positive himself, he was deemed to be a close contact of Adam Davies, who did turn in a positive test.
As a result, Moore has been forced to isolate for 10 days, meaning he has missed out on the chance to represent his country.
However, much to Cardiff’s relief, he will be due back in action in time for Sunday.
A tricky one.
The playmaker saw his start to the season hampered by a hamstring niggle picked up during the pre-season win over Newport County, and has since struggled for full fitness.
McCarthy has previously suggested that the 32-year-old has seen his comeback hampered by sickness, but did hint that a return to training might well be close.
Speaking ahead of the defeat to Bristol City, he said: “Tomlin was expected back last week, now this week, hopefully, we will see Tomlin in for training tomorrow.
“So no real news.”
Even if he is back on the training pitch, it’s difficult to see him being involved this weekend given his recent lack of minutes.
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It’s clearly been a frustrating time for the striker, but the sight of him getting 90 minutes under his belt in the recent under-23s clash with Wigan Athletic has clearly sparked some real optimism over a potential comeback.
Bristol City clearly came too soon, but curiously he wasn’t involved in last Sunday’s under-23s clash with Peterborough United either.
McCarthy has always urged caution in bringing Vassell back into the fold after such a long time on the sidelines, so it’s possible that his lack of involvement was simply a precaution.
Even so, he seems a little way off a first-team return.
Made his return to the under-23s just before the international break as he bids to work his way into the first team fold.
The forward lasted just over an hour during the win over Posh, but McCarthy has previously said that he won’t be rushed back.
He said: “The problem is, especially with a young lad, he was so eager to get back. He was close to making his debut. He needs to make sure he is 100 percent.”
The 19-year-old’s progress is a big positive, but until he can manage 90 minutes, it’s unlikely he’ll be considered for first-team selection any time soon.
The summer signing impressed during a solid opening-day debut against Barnsley, but has since been sidelined with an ankle injury.
McCarthy had previously suggested that the 20-year-old was facing up to a month on the treatment table, but the centre-back’s appearance on the bench in the Severnside derby suggested he was back in the fold again.
McGuinness was even called up to the Republic of Ireland Under-21s squad for the international break, only to withdraw due to an unspecified injury.
It will be interesting to hear McCarthy’s prognosis, but given it was serious enough to force him to withdraw, it seems likely that he’s facing a little longer on the sidelines.
Another one to suffer an ankle injury, Brown appears in a better place than his defensive colleague at the moment.
After playing 90 minutes for the under-23s, he was also able to start and finish Northern Ireland’s 1-0 friendly win over Estonia on Sunday night.
McCarthy will be keen to assess the defender when he returns, but an appearance this weekend is not beyond the realms of possibility.
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