Sheffield Wednesday: Mackay puts Owls in sights

Staying focused: Malky Mackay is setting his sights on the Owls
Staying focused: Malky Mackay is setting his sights on the Owls

CARDIFF manager Malky Mackay views Saturday’s clash with the Owls as a chance to accelerate his team’s drive towards the Premier League.

The Bluebirds have stuttered if not stalled in recent weeks and seen an 11-point lead at the top cut to four points.

But Mackay said: “It’s about making sure that we just stay focused on our task in hand.

“We’ve got to make sure that we only look at the team that’s in front of us.

“Everyone else is in the same boat in terms of chasing, in terms of picking up points every week and knowing that wherever you go in the division there are tough games.”

Cardiff have won only two of their last seven matches.

They needed late equalisers to snatch draws in their last two outings, 1-1 at home to Derby thanks to a 82nd minute strike by Peter Noone, and 1-1 at home to Leicester on Tuesday via a stoppage-time header by Rudy Gestede.

Dave Jones’ old club are only four points ahead of second-placed Hull, with a match in hand.

They also have injury problems: centre halves Ben Turner and Mark Hudson, the captain, are both doubtful for the Hillsborough game.

A defiant Mackay said: “Our equaliser was reward for the way we kept fighting to the end.

“The players deserved a draw (against Leicester). “They packed midfield, got players behind the ball and we had to stay patient. This was a match against one of the leading teams in the Championship and we came out with a hard-fought draw.”

That game has particular resonance for Wednesday, as they beat Leicester 1-0 last Saturday in a close, hard-fought contest.

In the run-up to the visit of the Owls, Leicester had a similar record to Cardiff’s recent one. Nigel Pearson’s side had won one league game out of six.

Ex-Wednesday captain Pearson vowed after last Saturday’s defeat - brought about by Connor Wickham’s volley - that his team would bounce back.

Right back Ritchie De Laet missed the Cardiff game because of an injury caused in a challenge by Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan last Saturday.

The defender was carried off near the end of the Owls’ victory.

But Pearson has cleared Helan of any intent to cause harm: “It looked as though it was a nasty injury at the time, but I didn’t feel there was any malice in it,” said Pearson.

“It was one of those situations where players come together and he struck through the ball and there was contact afterwards.”

Pearson felt that his team outplayed Cardiff: “We should have won the game. We were the much better side.

“We had to work hard at it and it took a long time to come, but the players were brave enough to work through it.

“It was disjointed game. I don’t think they created anything of note. We defended well but didn’t stop the cross at the end and that cost us.

“All in all we should have won the game but I was pleased with how the players went about it.”

For Wednesday, Saturday’s match is another opportunity to affect the promotion battle.

Did you know? When Cardiff beat Wednesday 1-0 at home in December, with an 80th minute goal from Craig Conway, it was part of a haul of nine wins in 11 games for the Bluebirds.