Grant: Cardiff still a danger without Chopra
CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant believes Cardiff boss Dave Jones can overcome the loss of leading scorer Michael Chopra for today's Carrow Road clash.
Peter Grant believes Cardiff boss Dave Jones can overcome the loss of leading scorer Michael Chopra for today's Carrow Road clash.
The City boss is an admirer of the former Newcastle striker, who misses the game because of suspension - denying fans a chance to see a head-to-head with City's Robert Earnshaw.
“It's a big blow for them because he's a terrific player, there's no getting away from that, and it's a boost for us,” admitted Grant.
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“When I was at Bournemouth we tried to get him on loan because he has always scored goals.
“I have always known what his goal scoring is like. He is a fantastic player and has started the season well. But they have other top players there - (Steven) Thompson has come down from Scotland, who I know from Dundee United and Rangers, and done terrifically well.
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“They have an old head in Kevin Campbell. I know they can change it round and they will still be a very strong side. It won't weaken them - it'll take something away from them, there is no doubt about that, because Chopra has been scoring goals and he is also got that knack that Robert Earnshaw has got, that you are always worrying about them, but they have replacements.
“But we have to make sure we don't get caught out by thinking he's not playing and somebody else appears and starts producing the moments of magic that can win the game for them.”
Birmingham and Cardiff are two very different propositions, and there was more than a slight look of familiarity between Steve Bruce's team on Tuesday and the Norwich team of, say, a month ago.
“Birmingham are a bit like ourselves, playing with a lack of confidence, but you can't say that about Cardiff,” Grant said.
“They are scoring late goals to win games, they go out in every game as if they are going to win it and it's a fantastic knack to have and that is what we are trying to install here. We are going to try and win the game every time we play, nothing less, and Cardiff go out there expecting to win. That is the mentality I want to have in our players - I think they showed that the other evening. We respect Cardiff but we aren't going to fear them, that's for sure.”
Chopra's absence may ease the burden on a City defence which, after conceding 17 goals in the previous half dozen matches, finally kept a clean sheet on Tuesday - even though Adam Drury's injury forced a half-time reshuffle, with Jurgen Colin moving to the left and sub Craig Fleming playing a familiar role at right back.
Grant was able to name the same back four which had started the season so well and believes some continuity will help produce more blank days for keeper Paul Gallacher.
“I know there has been a lot of chopping and changing,” Grant said. “Doc has played left-sided centre-back, Flem has played left-sided centre-back, they have changed it round with injuries and different positions. They had young (Patrick) Boyle come in, an inexperienced player, and lost the captain. Jurgen has come in and just had one season last year.
“But I like balance throughout the teams. The two left-footers to start on the left side is important - young Shackell and Adam - and two right-siders. That was the only disappointing thing, losing Adam at half-time, because we had to bring someone in in a position where they're not really comfortable, but did ever so well there.
“I always think players play much better if they are in the positions they prefer, but sometimes with the small squad we have we have to change that round a bit.
“A good thing was the central defenders played more in the centre of the pitch than playing at left back and right back. If full-backs go forward too early there is a lot of space down the side of you and I don't want the centre-backs on the side of the pitch, they are a lot more solid down the middle.”
Grant's other major concern from Tuesday night as the fact City had not put the game out of Birmingham's reach well before the final whistle.
“That's what I said to the players after the game - it was great to get the victory, but it should have been a lot more comfortable, there is no doubt about that. With the back four playing ever so well, I would have been very disappointed if we had lost a goal because we didn't finish teams off with the chances we had. I said to them the best players are always judged by what they do with the final pass. We have to take care, if it's a striker it's how many times he hits the back of the net. It should have been much more clinical and it would have made the last five, 10 minutes a lot easier and we have got to get better at that if we want to improve.
“Teams in this division are always capable of scoring against you, so the further you get away from them you have a chance - always think that the opposition are going to have a chance against you in the game. If you make sure you have got two or three goals they are not likely to do that.”