Selection dilemma for Bluebirds with Bothroyd absent

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Jay Bothroyd's absence through suspension from the Bluebirds’ line-up against the Swans at the Cardiff City Stadium this Sunday raises two very different but equally important questions.

Firstly, how will Dave Jones re-jig the team shape?

Bothroyd has been in such sparkling form this season that he has become an automatic choice in the team. With him present in the pivotal target role, the team shape has then fallen naturally into place.

It can be used for both the long ball game with Bothroyd as target man, while at the same time it can adjust too to the shorter intricate passing game, given Bothroyd's equal ability to play the ball at his feet.

With Bothroyd missing however - the long ball game is not really there as such an option. And there is no obvious stand in for him.

There are of course alternative options open to Dave Jones.

Using the well established attacking presence of Bellamy, Chopra, Burke, Whittingham he then has a choice of a combination using one or more of Andy Keogh, Jason Koumas, Gavin Rae, and Danny Drinkwater in various roles.

Whatever he does decide upon on the day - and it will be interesting to see how he plays this - it will be very different one to when Bothroyd is playing.

The second question then follows. With Bothroyd missing it is clearly apparent that there is no like-for-like replacement in the squad.

Even top teams are much less effective if their game is built on one particular striker and he is absent - Chelsea are a prime example. In my view, they are not anything like the side without Didier Drogba in the team - but having said that they adapt accordingly and still manage to win games without him.

But for a team like Cardiff it is especially important to have back up in all positions, most especially so in the striker role. So Bothroyd's absence does highlight a huge need. And it is good to address this need now with half a season to play rather than bring in someone totally new in the summer.

One could put forward an argument that having Bothroyd play only part of the Wembley play-off game against Blackpool last May did cost the Bluebirds the game. But that is in the past and nothing can be done about that.

However with the January transfer window fast approaching, one hopes the club has money available to buy, and in my view buying in support for Bothroyd should be high on the club's priority list.

With the Swans making steady progress up the table and the Bluebirds perched atop the table, this encounter now has extra dimensions other than the normal bragging rights associated with the fixture.

The prize of a place in the Premiship is increasingly becoming a distinct possibility for both sides and neither side will want to drop points with that in mind.

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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