Dangerous and wounded Cardiff can still recover, says Harris
Neil Harris has described his Cardiff City team as a “dangerous and wounded animal” as they prepare to face Fulham, trying to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit in their Championship play-off semi-final.
Fulham played Cardiff off the park in Monday’s first leg at the Cardiff City Stadium, but still Harris remains positive about tonight.
“I have picked myself up and my players, too. We are being written off and questioned. We can’t wait to respond and we will respond,” he said. “I have spoken to the players and reinforced positive messages. We have won six of our last eight away games. No Championship team has won more away points than us since I’ve taken charge. We have the ability. It’s not going to be easy and we are up against a good side, but we’re up for the challenge.
“I have tried to take the pressure off my players and put it on Fulham. We are the biggest underdog because we have the most to do, but do we fear it? No. We want to provide a miracle. We can be a dangerous and wounded animal and we have to show our resilience now.”
All the signs point to Fulham making it to Wembley for Tuesday’s play-off final. No side have come from two goals down in a Championship play-off and Cardiff have won only one of their past 12 meetings with Fulham.
Harris will make a last-minute call on his team with such a short turnaround between the two legs and mercurial forward Lee Tomlin is his biggest concern as he battles knee and hip issues.
Striker Robert Glatzel missed two big chances at the start of the first leg and Harris knows his team cannot afford such profligacy again.
He has drawn inspiration from his team’s revival to draw 3-3 at Leeds and other impressive away trips, but what should worry Harris is Fulham appear to have the measure of Cardiff. They also beat them 2-0 at Craven Cottage on July 10.
“Records are there to be broken in football,” said Harris. “In my two play-offs as a manager, I have been behind and I take solace from that fact. My teams have responded in difficult circumstances.
“It’s not ideal to be 2-0 down, but I have faith in my players to deliver. The first goal will be vital in the tie, but we don’t have to chase the game from the first whistle.”
Fulham were without Championship top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic for the first leg and manager Scott Parker was unwilling to confirm whether he would be fit to return despite training yesterday.
“There was a small issue and I had to make a call on Monday. He has trained and we will see where we are,” Parker said.