Cardiff City arrive in the northwest on the back of a home win over troubled Leeds United. They are in 11th place, 4 points off the play-offs, with a good home record but dreadful away form. The Bluebirds are still awaiting a first win on their travels in the league. Their impressive roster of strikers is depleted by Kenwyne Jones having to deal with a family tragedy back in Trinidad, but still boasts top flight experience in the shape of Adam Le Fondre, Federico Macheda and Nicky Maynard. David Marshall is the last line of defence behind a rearguard that includes former Manchester United left back Fabio, expensive summer signing from L'Orient in France Bruno Ecuele Manga, and ex-Reading man Sean Morrison.
Cardiff's midfield is packed with talented ball players, showcasing the likes of Peter Whittingham, Craig Noone, Anthony Pilkington, and Aaron Gunnarsson. Their strength in this department means the mercurial talent of Ravel Morrison is having to wait for a chance to shine after signing on loan from West Ham. Fortunately for Bolton Wanderers, enforcer Kagisha Dikgacoi has just been ruled out for 3 months.
Blackpool's one and only win of the season came against Cardiff in the northwest, so the Whites should be confident that another home victory could be up for grabs.
Neil Lennon has hinted at personnel changes in midfield, and whether that includes captain Jay Spearing missing out after being hauled off at half-time at Carrow Road remains to be seen. His withdrawal in that game shows a manager not afraid to make big decisions involving strong and important characters so it wouldn't be a complete surprise to see Spearing on the subs bench for this important encounter. That said, a lack of quality options would make this seem an unlikely move.
Liam Trotter, Josh Vela or the seemingly out-of-favour Medo Kamara are candidates to come into the side. Chung-Yong Lee and Mark Davies seem assured of their places after their importance has been talked up by Lennon frequently after recent games.
The fans will want to see two up front and that may mean a recall for Craig Davies. Despite his pleas for patience, surely Jermaine Beckford's frustratingly scoreless league season means his place is under threat. It is hard to predict Lennon's team right now, though youngster Oscar Threlkeld will hope to continue at right back in Kevin McNaughton's enforced absence against his parent club.
Difficult to call this one as, despite a pretty awful away record, Cardiff are no doubt a talented squad that haven't quite gelled. A performance like the one witnessed against Brentford will be expected by the fans and not the continuation of the anxious and deflating display seen at Norwich City.
Can't help thinking this has a draw written all over it but I'll go for an optimistic 2-1 win with a late winner from super sub Max Clayton.