Ralls won’t be flying in to face Canaries – Warnock
CARDIFF City boss Neil Warnock says Joe Ralls is edging closer to a return from injury, but won’t be risked for the trip to Norwich City tomorrow.
The midfielder hasn’t played a minute of first team football since February after suffering an ankle injury, although there were initially positive signs that he could be fit for the trip to Carrow Road .
However, Warnock has revealed that the Englishman has suffered a setback on his road to recovery, and is unlikely to travel to Norfolk, although he could yet be in contention for the visit of Nottingham Forest.
“Joe’s not quite ready, he had a little bit of a setback the week before last when I thought he’d be ready,” said Warnock.
“We have to be careful with him because we don’t know how many games we’ve got left and it’s important we get him right. He’ll probably be okay for Forest but I don’t want to risk him for Norwich.
“There’s a couple of niggles from Tuesday but nothing untoward. Nobody missing from the squad anyway. We’ll just have to wait and see this morning as they didn’t train yesterday. I want to make sure everyone’s right before we decide on what to do.”
The Bluebirds hit the road having picked up just one point from a possible nine - a run that has put a significant dent in their ambitions of automatic promotion .
And, with a crucial run of five games to go, Warnock admits his side have missed the influence of the talented midfielder, and admits City could face a fight to keep him at the Cardiff City Stadium in the summer.
“Every team needs Joe added.
“He’s worth a fortune now I think. Premier League clubs will be watching Ralls,” he him and he’ll be hard to keep hold of if we don’t go up. So that’s another reason to make sure we do – to keep our best players.
“Joe’s had a fantastic season and we have missed him, but you can’t dwell on that. You’ve just got to move on and hope he gets back as soon as possible.
“I can’t fault the other lads. They’ve all done well.”
The return of Ralls could well present Warnock with something of a selection headache over the next couple of weeks, with Aron Gunnarsson having already completed a lengthy spell on the sidelines, although his return has coincided with City’s recent slump in form.
But the Yorkshireman insists he has no issue in keeping the faith with the Icelandic international.
“I told him he was bound to get accusations that he’s played three and not won one,” added the veteran boss.
“But I said ‘I’m happy with you, and it’s not your fault we missed two penalties! And missed seven chances. And the goalie playing well. I think he’s been a part of giving us those chances. You have to look at it from afar really.
“There’s been different games. I’ve wanted different things in different games. The opposition play a part [in selection] and I do scrutinise because it’s such an important part of the pitch [the centre of the park]. We’ve got good options even without Joe Ralls.”
There could yet be more options elsewhere for Warnock to consider, with full-back Jazz Richards making progress on his own recovery from injury.
“Jazz was sprinting yesterday, so hopefully he’ll be training again soon, so if we don’t get any injuries on Saturday, it’ll be a full house,” he added.
Increased competition in the first XI will be a problem largely welcomed by Warnock, although it comes at the price of leaving certain players out, including the likes of Liam Feeney, Greg Halford and Kadeem Harris.
But, he insists those left out of the matchday squad are still singing from the same hymn sheet.
“Kadeem’s not been able to get into the squad,” added Warnock.
“I’ve had other options and I’ve gone with that. There’s a few who’ve not been getting into the squad.
“That’s probably the most stressful part of the job. You’ve got to enjoy the rest. Some results go for us and some don’t.
“They’re all on board. Even Lee Tomlin talks to me from time to time. It’s a special group. I can’t fault anyone.”