Cardiff City are likely to welcome back attacking duo Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Lee Tomlin for Sunday afternoon’s encounter with Leeds United.
The Bluebirds host the Elland Road outfit this lunchtime for their first Championship fixture in more than three months and both sides are champing at the bit to get going.
None more so than Mendez-Laing and Tomlin, both of whom thought their seasons were over before the enforced break owing to hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
Now, though, they are back after playing friendly matches against Swansea City and Cheltenham Town last week and will bolster the squad to no end over the remaining nine fixtures.
How much of a part Mendez-Laing plays remains to be seen, especially with the wealth of options Neil Harris has at his disposal in that position.
Albert Adomah has impressed since his January loan switch so it is expected he will keep his place, while there is a growing belief that the manager will plump for Josh Murphy on the left flank.
With regards to Tomlin, if he is anywhere near full fitness you would think he is a shoo-in, given how invaluable he has proven himself to be this season. There is no like-for-like replacement within City’s ranks and he will definitely get the nod if deemed fit enough.
Jazz Richards had previously been ruled out of the match due to a calf injury sustained during lockdown, although he had trained since then, but announced on the eve of the match that he had left the club.
Dion Sanderson will likely fill the right-back berth.
Greg Cunningham returned to full training this week, but Sunday’s match is likely to be too early for his return following that nasty ACL tear back in October.
Isaac Vassell is the other long-term absentee, he will also miss out.
Want the latest Cardiff City news straight to your inbox?
Join hundreds of Bluebirds fans in getting the breaking news, transfer gossip and big interviews sent to your inbox on a daily basis.
Sign up to the Cardiff option below and then each day at 4pm you’ll receive a handy round-up of all the day’s latest news with links to read the full articles.
All you have to do is click here and select the newsletter you want.
The best part? It’s completely free!
Harris kept his cards close to his chest in Thursday’s press conference, but alluded to a few ‘niggles’ within the squad, so don’t be surprised if one or two others miss out.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a four-way battle between Will Vaulks, Leandro Bacuna, Joe Ralls and Marlon Pack in the middle of the park, while a healthy battle for the two wing berths will also take place.
We have had our say below, you can have yours here.
Cardiff City likely XI (4-2-3-1): Smithies; Sanderson, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett; Vaulks, Bacuna; Adomah, Tomlin, Murphy; Paterson.
Leeds United, meanwhile, have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Championship restart with star winger Pablo Hernandez set to miss Sunday’s clash with Cardiff City.
There were murmurings last week he had suffered a training-ground injury before Marcelo Bielsa ruled him out of the match in this week’s press conference.
Joe Mewis of LeedsLive outlined the player’s importance to the side and just how big of an absence he will be
“Hernandez is the creative fulcrum of this team and any side in the division would miss a man of his talents,” he told Gist Vile.
“The Spaniard always has something up his sleeve and Leeds will now have to look elsewhere if they need a moment of magic to unlock the Cardiff defence if we see a tight, gritty match.”
Harris himself even alluded to the importance of Hernandez ahead of the encounter.
“I hope they are not at full strength,” Harris joked on Thursday. “You always want to gain an advantage.
“I am trying to keep things close to my chest. We will see the same from Leeds as well.
“We saw Sheffield United’s team last night, that, in my opinion, weakened their team and gave an advantage to the opponent.
“I think that’s going to be the norm for the next three and a half weeks.
“He’s a top player. He’s a super player and his physical output is astounding and a player I admire a lot at the level we play at.”
January signing Jean-Kevin Augustin has suffered a setback following an earlier hamstring injury and will also miss this weekend’s match.
Adam Forshaw, who underwent season-ending surgery in February, is still not available.
Kalvin Phillips missed Leeds’ last match back in March with a knock, but is now fit again. Kiko Casilla remains suspended for the next six matches.
Likely Leeds United XI: (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Harrison; Bamford