Cardiff City’s play-off surge has been placed on hold for some time following the latest development that all football has been suspended until April 30th at the earliest.
Neil Harris’ side had been firmly in contention to make the top six following their recent success over Barnsley, but they must now wait while all action is on hold as a result of ongoing health concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.
It remains to be seen when the football season will eventually be completed, but there have been suggestions that the season could even be completely voided due to the fact that matches may not be allowed to take place.
In today’s FLW Six Pointer, we take a look how the suspension may affect Cardiff…
Firstly, what was Cardiff’s predicament before the suspension?
“Cardiff sealed a vital 2-0 away victory over Barnsley in their final match before the suspension, with this meaning Neil Harris’ side are currently sitting ninth in the Championship table and just two points adrift of the play-offs.
“The Bluebirds have slowly emerged as serious play-off contenders over the course of the season, and this is testament to Harris’ solid work since his arrival in the Welsh capital, with the Cardiff boss having utilised his squad effectively.
“The suspension will have come as a setback for the Bluebirds given they would have looked to use the Barnsley win as a chance to gain some momentum.”
How have the Bluebirds responded?
“Cardiff were supposed to train on Wednesday despite ongoing health concerns, but the Bluebirds’ Vale of Glamorgan training ground has now been closed until Monday at the earliest in response to government guidelines.
“This means there will be no Cardiff first-team training for the foreseeable future, with this the same approach that is being taken by their south Wales rivals Swansea who have also shut their training ground for now.
“Cardiff have also confirmed that as many staff as possible are currently working from home, with the club on hold until the pandemic eases.”
What must they now do?
“It will be difficult for any sides to maintain their focus on proceedings in the league when such a situation is developing globally, but the Bluebirds must simply work on the assumption that their action will resume on April 30th.
“It is essential that they hit the ground running when fixtures resume, as it seems likely the suspension will have affected some teams more than others, and Cardiff must ensure they are in the correct mindset to further propel their play-off push.
“Training should resume as soon as it is safe for the Bluebirds to do so, but the EFL should also be providing guidance on how clubs can handle this scenario.”
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Will this suspension affect the future of Cardiff’s players?
“Cardiff’s loan players may be affected by the elongation of the regular season given their deals were set to expire in June with Dion Sanderson, Brad Smith and Albert Adomah all now facing uncertainty.
‘It seems increasingly likely that any loan deals will automatically extend until the end of the season given most clubs will be in the same situation, and this would see the Bluebirds maintain the same core squad until the campaign ends.
“Bluebirds duo Jazz Richards and Danny Ward may also be impacted given their contracts will expire in the summer, but an agreement could be reached which would see them play out the last nine games before a decision is made.”
What will their aim be when the season restarts?
“Cardiff will now have their sights set firmly on the top six. It will not be easy given there are a number of top sides in the mix, but the Bluebirds will hold the belief that they possess enough quality players to beat any side on their day.
“Their first match after the suspension looks set to come against Championship leaders Leeds United, and this will be a real test of Harris’ side resolve ahead of the final run-in.
“Promotion is certainly not everything for Cardiff this season given Harris will keep his job whether they go up or stay in the Championship, but their recent form suggests they may be capable of reaching the top flight this season.”
Finally, do you think Cardiff will push to resume the season?
“Definitely. The Bluebirds had started looking like they had a serious shot at promotion just before suspension, so they will undoubtedly want the campaign to be finished when it is safe to do so.
“This will be a difficult situation to navigate given they had started building this momentum, but they must now ensure they pick up where they left off when fixtures resume.”