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Swansea City   v   Cardiff City
SkyBet Championship
Sunday, 17th October 2021 Kick-off 12:00
Russell Martin gives Swansea City fans a huge boost for the derby game
Thursday, 14th Oct 2021 12:43 by Keith Haynes

Russell Martin faces what will be the biggest game of his short managerial career when the swans face up to Cardiff City at the Swansea.Com stadium on Sunday ( midday KO ) The away side still believe they hold all the aces, and many of their fans are predicting a heavy defeat for Swansea City. As of this morning Cardiff still had just under 200 tickets available for the game.

A confident Russell Martin has revealed that Olivier Ntcham, Michael Obafemi and Ryan Bennett are all looking like match day contenders for Sunday. Last weekend the injuries to all three players looked like they could be excluded from selection, but the international break has worked very much in the swans favour.

“The international week is a big period for us because it allows us to work on a lot of different things,” explained Martin. It gave a few players the chance to recover from knocks and niggles, while it was also an opportunity for us to get Michael Obafemi, Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Bennett back on the training pitch. Seeing them back in training is massive for us. They give us so much more strength. They are three important players who were doing well before their injuries. Benno is someone the fans will have seen a lot of since he arrived here, while they’ve witness Oli’s quality already”

Russell Martin is extremely pleased his squad has added strength for the South Wales derby

The turnaround over the past five days for all three, and an opportunity for Liam Walsh to have another well earned break after his recent injury is great news for the Swansea faithful. Cardiff City do not have the experience or skill set in their midfield to match up to the swans, and have chosen recently to set up with five defensive players which has seen a run of defeats. With Ntcham, Grimes and Downes likely to start with either Paterson or Obafemi, then Piroe up front the attacking threat is there. With an injury free defensive selection as well there should be no excuses not to take the game to Cardiff. How that defensive unit sets up is a conundrum, but if Bennett is fit then Cabango and possibly Naughton will fill in the back three. We shouldn’t forget Ryan Manning who is playing his best football for the swans since he arrived from QPR, and he is another option. Jake Bidwell and a fully recovered Ethan Laird are also likely to start. Both are capable of causing the Cardiff defence problems, Bidwell’s delivery from wide areas, and Laird’s pace and tricky footwork will be a major factor come Sunday. It’s a great opportunity too for Martin to include Morgan Whittaker on the bench with Brandon Cooper, and a revitalised Dan Williams.

“It was a really good week of work for us. We haven’t had a pre-season together as staff and players, so we’ve played catch up since then,” added the Swans boss. Ryan and Ethan have been recovering from their injuries, so it was a chance for them to recuperate. The boys have worked really, really hard. The improvement after the last international break was vast in terms of performance, and hopefully it will be the same this time. The medical team and sports science team here are fantastic, and they’ve got everyone in a really good place.”

If the atmosphere and run up to this game doesn’t excite and inspire the Swansea City squad this weekend then it’s pretty difficult to see what will. This game has had everything in its long history. There has been very little to separate the two clubs. Numerous sides have underestimated the swans this season, and many have gotten away with a point due to Swansea City’s poor finishing. Hopefully come Sunday everything will click in to place.

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Photographs licensed from Reuters

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