Wanderers ready for Gary Madine reunion at Cardiff City
Tuesday 13th February 2018
MOST complimentary on tonight’s opponents, Phil Parkinson is confident Wanderers can bring the points back home.
But if they are to do so, and climb above Reading and into 18th, they have to maintain their current levels of performance.
Wanderers were 2-0 winners when the two sides met at the Macron in December. That game was in the balance until Gary Madine – who will line up in the blue of Cardiff tonight – scored a 75th-minute penalty and Josh Vela sealed the win two minutes from time.
And he is expecting another stern examination of his side’s survival credentials in South Wales against Neil Warnock’s team, who he suspects are over-achieving, given their high-riding rivals’ outlay.
“We’ve beaten them not that long ago, we know what they’re all about and we know exactly how they’re going to play,” said Parkinson. “They’re a good side and Neil [Warnock] has done a fantastic job there, probably on resources that are not as much as that top six.
“So we know what we’ve got to do and we’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve had a few weeks, in terms of no midweek games, to prepare for this run of games, mentally and physically, we’re ready and I’m looking forward to seeing us perform in Cardiff.
“Ideally we’re looking to move away from the bottom and we’ve been targeting the teams above us all along.
“We have the opportunity to jump above Reading and that’s what we’ve got to do. The more teams we can get involved the better, there are other teams, above Reading, that will start looking over their shoulders and maybe two months ago they were safe and now they’ll be getting worried and that’s what we’ve got to do. We can only do that by picking up as many points as possible.
“Four points from the last two games is a good return, obviously we’re pleased with the performance against Fulham, who are an excellent side, especially the way we responded after going a goal down.
“I thought we dug in and had some really good periods in the game, it was a good point for us.”
There is little doubt Wanderers have responded magnificently to the loss of Madine to tonight’s opponents.
The sale of the side’s leading scorer was, for many looking in, a hammer blow to their bid to avoid a return to League One.
But the Whites boss has been delighted by the reaction among his players, not least the likes of Sammy Ameobi and Adam Le Fondre. The former lit up the TV screens with a fierce drive into the bottom corner of the goal to beat Bristol City while the latter put months of sideline frustration into a stunning hit in Saturday’s draw against Fulham, another promotion contender.
Which leaves Nottingham Forest loan recruits Zach Clough and Tyler Walker vying for starting spots with players hitting form.
A good selection problem for Parkinson to have, then.
“The other players stepping up has been great from our point of view,” he said. “We could have moped around a little bit when we lost Gaz but the mindset straight away was ‘come on, who’s going to step up to the plate’ and I genuinely feel there are players who will make a big contribution before the end of the season.
“I’ve said recently how important it is for us to have players show their professionalism, Alfie typified that with his contribution when he came on and there’s a real feeling everybody’s pulling together and that’s what we’re going to need.
“We had a brief chat, he’s keen to play regularly, but he wasn’t banging the door down. He didn’t really want to go because he enjoys it here, so nothing materialised and that was good for us because it’s worked out well.
“We know Zach’s got a cutting edge, he’s scored goals before and he doesn’t let things faze him, and that’s the sign of a goalscorer. He doesn’t get too down about it.
“It’s important he’s getting those chances and with his brightness and his intelligence he’ll continue to get in those positions and you’d back Zach to take them sooner rather than later.”
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