Manchester City's tenure at the Premiership summit may have been short-lived, but Kevin Keegan's plans for the second leg of their Uefa Cup qualifying-round tie against Total Network Solutions tonight indicates a higher priority on Arsenal's visit on Sunday than on what ought to prove a stroll in the Millennium Stadium against the side from the Mid-Wales hamlet of Llansantffraid.
With City leading 5-0, Keegan has changed his mind about fielding his strongest team in Cardiff and will give rare outings to several fringe players. The strikers Jon Macken and Darren Huckerby are "champing at the bit", he said, while Richard Dunne returns in defence and Nicky Weaver's long absence in goal will end.
Weaver, an England Under- 21 cap, has not appeared since limping off against Birmingham 18 months ago. His response to surgery on a career-threatening knee injury has ensured that Keegan no longer views him as immature. "I know Nicky played 170 games, but you're still a kid if you think like one," the City manager said. "He now has my respect for the way he has worked. He has certainly grown up."
TNS, who opened their domestic campaign with a 1-0 win at Cwmbran on Saturday, are keen to avoid the record aggregate defeat for a Welsh Premier League club in Europe, the 11-0 margin Bangor suffered against Halmstad. An average crowd of 271 suggests their hopes of a healthy pay-day depends on how many Mancunian fans make the trek to watch a "City XI".
Manchester City (from): Weaver, Ellegaard, Sun, Distin, Sommeil, Dunne, Bischoff, Wiekens, Tiatto, Negouai, Bosvelt, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Berkovic, Sinclair, Anelka, Macken, Huckerby, Jordan.
- More about:
- Cardiff (city)
- Cardiff City Fc
- Kevin Keegan
- Manchester City
- Millennium Stadium
- UEFA Europa League