Cardiff City vs Derby County preview: play-off race hots up
Neil Harris has taken Cardiff to within touching distance of a play-off spot | Photo by Alex Livesey - Getty Images

Cardiff City host Derby County in Championship action on Tuesday night in what is a huge game in the play-off race. 

With just three games remaining for both sides, the Bluebirds currently occupy sixth place in the table but have a number of teams hot on their heels.

Derby are one of those teams. The Rams have flown up the league table in 2020, but a poor run of form has left them needing all the points they can get at this stage.

Lose, and the play-off dream could be over for the Rams. Win, and things will get interesting.

Form

The Bluebirds go into the game on the back of back-to-back defeats to Blackburn and Fulham. Neil Harris’ men have just one win in their last four games, and will be hoping a positive result here can boost their play-off hopes ahead of the final couple of games of the normal season.

Derby have dropped off slightly of late with back-to-back defeats to West Brom and Brentford. The Rams had won five in a row either side of the break, but are now winless in three.

Team news

Neither team has any fresh injury concerns.

Martyn Waghorn serves the second game of his three match suspension, whilst Jack Marriott and Krystian Bielik are long-term injury absentees.

Duane Holmes still has a hamstring problem, and Andre Wisdom also remains sidelined.

Previous clashes

It was honours even in the reverse fixture at Pride Park earlier this season. Scott Malone’s early opener was cancelled out by Robert Glatzel’s penalty and 1-1 was how it finished.

In the fixtures’s history, Cardiff lead the way in terms of victories with 28 wins to Derby’s 18. There have also been 18 draws.

Key players 

With Derby needing goals, Cardiff’s defence will be key. Captain Sean Morrison has formed a solid partnership at the back with Curtis Nelson, whilst Will Vaulks always does a good job of protecting the back line in midfield. The Welshman can chip in further forward, too - proved with his recent goal against Blackburn.

The returning Tom Lawrence will be key for Derby. The wide man made his comeback from suspension at the weekend in the 3-1 loss against Brentford, and will be hoping he can pick up where he left off before his ban.

Louie Sibley in the ‘number 10’ role, along with centre half Matt Clarke, will also be important.

What the managers have said

Cardiff manager Neil  Harris praised his side’s progress when talking to the club website this week, but admitted there is still plenty to do.

“We're rewarded with the position we're in because of the seven-game unbeaten run we had, and the points that we picked up in that period” he said.

“Now we have to get back on an unbeaten run, and that starts on Tuesday night against Derby."

Derby boss Phillip Cocu seemed prepared when speaking to the club website this week:

“They are one of the more direct playing teams and are dangerous from set plays” he said.

“They have a midfield with a lot of physical power, a lot of runs in behind and anticipating on passes to their striker and pick up second balls, so we must be really focused on that part of the game.

“We need to pick up second balls, keep our defensive shape and then it’s up to us when we have the possession then we try to play our own game.”

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