Football

FA Cup selection dilemma for Dave Jones this weekend

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The FA Cup game on Saturday against Stoke presents Dave Jones with a slightly different team selection problem than is normal.

Should he field his first choice players to give the team an opportunity to build on the win against Leeds - prior to that game the Bluebirds were on a truly worrying downward slope in form - or should he rest some or even all his key players, to avoid any chance of their sustaining injuries?

Six weeks ago when the team was flying high, and promotion looked to be a very good bet, I'd have been happy for Jones to choose a first choice team and to see how they truly matched up in a contest against a Premiership team.

In effect, to view the Stoke fixture as a possible dress rehearsal for next season!

However, given the Bluebirds' slump in form in recent weeks and the consequent loss of points, Dave Jones can now ill afford to needlessly lose any key players through injuries at this stage of the season. Such a scenario would seriously undermine the club's drive for promotion.

Although a good run in the cup would prove useful financially, the priority is now to keep players fit and available for the season's concluding Championship games.

The ideal situation of course would be for the first choice team to play against Stoke, for the Bluebirds to win the game, and for everyone to come out of the game injury free.

However, such a strategy is risky and should not in my view be taken.

Getting the team balance right for Saturday is therefore not going to be easy - supporters will expect the team to be strong enough to contest the game against Stoke, but no-one will be happy if key players gets injured.

The win against Leeds was a welcome relief - and hopefully this will have helped towards restoring the team's confidence and self belief, but for most Bluebirds fans I suspect the first priority will be for the team to remain injury free for future Championship games.

And aiming for a win against Stoke? Though desired, it comes a fairly distant second to the drive for promotion.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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