Cardiff City preview - April, March 9
WATFORD HEAD to South Wales on Bank Holiday Monday to face former boss Malky Mackay and his new side Cardiff City.
The Bluebirds have had a season of two halves, much like both of Mackay's seasons at the helm of the good ship Watford. A blistering start undermined spectacularly by a woeful second period of the season.
Of course, the Welsh outfit have had the distraction, both mentally and physically of the Carling Cup final to contend with. A 2-1 defeat by Kenny Dalglish's ailing Liverpool extremely hard on Mackay's side.
Despite everything, the Bluebirds sit sixth at the time of writing having dispatched with Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium a day before Easter.
Left with very few senior players following a clearout at the end of last season, Mackay has been busy in the transfer market in order to build a squad capable of competing for a top-six spot.
The January Transfer Window was a quiet one for Mackay, who brought just two players to the Cardiff City Stadium, albeit only one of those was on a permanent basis.
Highly-rate Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Kadeem Harris joined City for an undisclosed fee having made just 10 starts for the Chairboys. The 18 year-old London-born forward is yet to make his debut for Cardiff.
With an eye on the more immediate future, Mackay also swooped for Portsmouth talisman, Liam Lawrence.
Lawrence, 30, joined the Bluebirds on loan from crisis club Portsmouth, where he had been one of the club's most handsomely-paid stars. A dead-ball specialist, the former Mansfield, Sunderland and Stoke City wide man lends a touch of class to proceedings and will be looking to make the switch proper over the summer.
Midfielder Peter Whittingham has once more been the key man for the Bluebirds, 11 goals from midfield proving a respectable tally for the talented playmaker.
Signed from Aston Villa in 2007, the former England U21 international is roaring towards 200 league starts for City and is the creative fulcrum of the side.
Blessed with supreme vision and passing abilities, Whittingham has been heralded on many an occasion as one of the second-tier's best, in spite of his laid-back style.
The Bluebirds have a virtually fully-fit squad for this one Rudy Gestede and Filip Kiss all recently back from minor niggles.
Scottish international Kenny Miller could miss out after being withdrawn on Teesside after only six minutes.
Stephen McPhail might not be fit to start a second game in a few days.
Sean Dyche has the same luxury with only Adrian Mariappa a doubt and Stephen McGinn missing.
Dyche could be tempted to tinker with the side which looked creatively inept at home to Blackpool but will not be forced into any changes.
Cardiff City: Marshall; Blake, Turner, Hudson (c), Taylor; Lawrence, Cowie, Gunnarsson, Whittingham; Miller; Gestede.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Taylor, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Eustace (c), Hogg, Murray; Iwelumo & Deeney.
Referee: Mr D Deadman.