Cardiff boss Neil Harris has stated that he dropped goalkeeper Neil Etheridge for Sunday’s South Wales derby because of transfer speculation over the last few weeks.
The keeper got taken out of the firing line for the fixture with rivals Swansea as Alex Smithies came into the side to try and impress.
Smithies ended with a clean sheet, although he didn’t have much to do throughout in what was a lacklustre derby match that failed to show any real quality.
It was a bold call to make from Harris and one that could have backfired had Smithies had a really poor game in the Bluebirds goal.
The manager has expressed that the only reason he dropped Etheridge was to take him out of the firing line because of the speculation that had been continuously around him over the last few weeks.
Speaking to Football.London, Harris said: “With the goalkeeper, there has been a lot of speculation around Neil (Etheridge). There has been a lot of talk in the press about him moving on this week and it’s just a change to give Alex (Smithies) an opportunity, who has been very patient and good over a number of years in the Championship.
“Also, it’s just giving Neil an opportunity to come out of the firing line because of the speculation around him.”
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It was a really bold move from Harris especially for a derby fixture against Swansea. There would have been a lot of Bluebirds supporters slightly apprehensive after seeing the lineup but they’ll be happy to have kept a clean sheet.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Etheridge does move clubs over the next few weeks and whether his head has been effected by the speculation.
We saw with Jack Butland earlier in the campaign that if your head isn’t right heading into Championship fixture then you are prone to make a number of key errors. Another key part of the speculation is to know whether he wants the move, if that’s the case then it’s definitely right to drop him.