Ralls won’t be fly­ing in to face Ca­naries – Warnock

South Wales Echo - - FOOTBALL -

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.”

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