Cardiff's depleted ranks stand firm to frustrate Eriksson

Cardiff City 0 Leicester City 0
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The Independent Football

Cardiff City may have been battered, bruised and bloodied here, but Malky Mackay's heavily depleted yet courageous side will be the happier party following this dour Championship stalemate with big-spending Leicester City.

The Cardiff manager, without Tom Heaton, Ben Turner, Andrew Taylor and Stephen McPhail prior to the lunch-time kick-off through injury, could only look on in horror as his first-team casualty list stretched to eight players after a brutal 90 minutes of minimal goal-mouth action.

By half-time the Bluebirds had suffered a triple blow as Craig Conway, substitute Robert Earnshaw and Mark Hudson were all withdrawn. Then the man who had replaced Earnshaw, the French forward Rudy Gestede, compounded Mackay's misery by pulling up with a hamstring problem, making him a virtual spectator for the final 20 minutes.

The Scottish manager believed his team's midweek efforts, to beat the same opponents in the Carling Cup, had come back to bite them. "The injuries could have been a result of playing 120 minutes last Wednesday night. The recovery process is important in modern-day football and we try to manage it as best as we can. The players take protein shakes and we do pool sessions – we do everything possible, but fatigue happens after 120 minutes during the week."

Detailing the injuries, he explained: "To lose three players in the first half was bizarre. It's never happened to me before. Craig took a bad tackle in the first minute and rolled his ankle. We tried to give it 15 minutes but he had to come off. Earnie had a shot and felt something go in his thigh. Then Huds also took a nasty tackle on his ankle. The staff are certainly earning their money.

"Then for the last 20 minutes we had to play with 10 men as Rudy's hamstring went and he was lame. Kevin McNaughton has a flesh wound after he put his body on the line.

"We will know more about the players in the next 24 hours," Mackay added. "We will have them scanned and see what situation we are in. But the lads worked hard and defended well. We are now seven games unbeaten and that builds momentum. We have a hardy group of individuals."

Yesterday's point pushed Cardiff back into the top six while Leicester's new-look side are also steadily progressing under Sven Goran Eriksson. The former England manager's team came closest to claiming maximum points in a game to forget when Andy King fired over before Darius Vassell headed against the crossbar from Lee Peltier's dangerous cross in added time.

Eriksson saw signs here that his side are finally heading in the right direction. The Swede said: "It is normal for new players to take time to settle in. You can use the excuse of new players taking time to settle in the first three, four or five games but not any more. We can't keep saying that. We have to play for the whole game like we did in the last 15 minutes here."

Cardiff City (4-5-1): Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson (Blake, h-t), Gerrard, Naylor; Cowie, Gunnarsson, Kiss, Whittingham, Conway (Earnshaw, 25; Gestede, 43); Miller. Substitutes not used: Parish (gk), Mason, Blake.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Peltier, Mills, Bamba, Konchesky; Abe, King, Wellens, Fernandes (Johnson, 74); Vassell, Beckford (Schlupp, 72). Substitutes not used: Weale (gk), Pantsil, Danns.

Referee: M Haywood (West Yorkshire).