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Bluebirds hope winning ways will edge them to play-offs

FIRST-HALF goals from Peter Whittingham and Kenneth Zohore helped Cardiff return to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Preston in midweek and a win this weekend could lift them to within seven points of the play-offs.

The victory moves the Bluebirds closer to the play-offs than relegation and the next couple of games, beginning with Norwich, will determine if they can mount a late play-off push.

Manager Neil Warnock was unhappy the club were unable to buy any players on transfer deadline day, but he was more than happy with his team’s performance against Preston.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, he said: “It was comfortable, quite professional. It showed how far we have come really. In every area it was pleasing.

“You’re only as good as your forwards and I thought they were all a threat. Midfield did well too. It was a pleasing night.”

Top goalscorer Anthony Pilkington remains sidelined with a thigh strain while Rickie Lambert is struggling with a back problem. As a result, Warnock is likely to keep faith in Zohore to lead the line against a Norwich side that has conceded 40 goals this season.

Norwich’s season has been one of ups and downs. Two defeats in their first 13 matches was followed by run of eight defeats in their next 10. Complaints from fans  have fallen away after wins in three of their last four.

A picture of Norwich manager Alex Neil

Alex Neil thinks Norwich are in for a tough test against Cardiff. (Credit: Sky Sports News)

A 2-0 victory over Birmingham City has raised hopes that Alex Neil’s side are back in play-off contention. Goals from former Cardiff striker Cameron Jerome and Swiss centre-back Timm Klose in the first half were enough to seal the win.

Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, Neil said: “It is not going to be easy down there. We are going to need all the squad fit. We have Nelson coming back and we just need to make sure we utilise the strengths of both lads as well as we can because they are complete opposites.”

Left-back Martin Olsson and winger Robbie Brady left the club during the transfer window for Premier League teams. They were replaced with Ajax’s Mitchell Dijks and Wigan’s Yanic Wildschut.

Influential midfielder Graham Dorrans is out injured with a knee injury, as is young midfielder Louis Thompson who suffered an achilles injury in training before the Birmingham match.

Striker Nelson Oliveira returns from a three-match ban and midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is back from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Norwich are the third highest goal-scorers in the league, but they can be unconvincing in defence. The departures of Olsson and Brady, who had formed a good partnership on the left-hand side, could give Cardiff the advantage they need to get the three points.

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