Former Cardiff City striker Nathan Blake has given his view on the Lee Tomlin decision that faces Neil Harris following the attacking midfielder’s injury.
The midfielder picked up a knee injury in training last week which has ruled him out for the best part of two months at a vital time for the Bluebirds.
Tomlin has been vital for Cardiff since Neil Harris was appointed with his flair, creativity and vision helping their results to pick up. The 31-year-old has scored six times in 18 appearances across the last few months as Harris has brought the best out of him again.
Writing in his WalesOnline column, Blake said: “There is no direct replacement for Lee Tomlin, that is for certain.
“The Bluebirds playmaker has been central to everything positive since Neil Harris walked through the door back in November and his injury is a massive blow for Cardiff City.
“But the show must go on and Harris this weekend must pick his team for the tough test that Brentford will represent.
“Personally, I would revert to a 4-3-3 system. I would trade Tomlin for an out-and-out midfielder. I would love to see Joe Ralls coming back into the fray again.
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“But, between now and the end of the season, we need more goals from the midfield. I just think there is a lack of expectation on these midfield players to score goals.
“Ralls brought goals earlier in the season and I think he could be a huge asset as the season draws to a close.
“Perhaps you could go with Pack in the deep-lying role with Ralls and Leandro Bacuna either side as your two ‘No.8’ style midfielders. With young Dion Sanderson on the right-hand side, bombing up and down the flank, that also adds another attacking dynamic.
“Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy could quite easily swap in for Tomlin in a like-for-like role, but that area of the pitch is so congested and, at present, I think that might not be the best idea.”
Central midfielder Ralls has been out with injury for most of the Harris era as he was suffering with an injury when the former Millwall boss was appointed. He then suffered a broken hand in December before picking up a hip injury last month.
Ralls has featured just five times over the last few months with injuries taking hold on the 26-year-old.
Blake is right when he touches on the attacking midfield slots being quite congested.
Another central midfielder in the middle of the park would allow the Bluebirds to impose themselves more when on the ball and dominate possession as they try to find a way through opposition defences.
Ralls would work in a midfield three or as the attacking midfielder behind the striker but Harris now has a difficult decision to make on whether he chooses to follow Blake’s advice or go with his own option.