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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Cardiff should survive in the Lions' Den

Millwall fans are not happy

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock
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Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football/Main Event, 7.45pm Friday

Cardiff are one of the most physical, streetwise teams in the Sky Bet Championship and those qualities can help them pass a stern test against Millwall at the Den.

Six of the current top ten - Wolves, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Leeds - have visited Millwall this season and none have triumphed.

Millwall's supporters and players have risen to the occasion for high-profile matches and opposition teams often seemed ill-equipped to cope with the lively atmosphere and direct style of football.

But it could be different this time because Cardiff, under vastly experienced manager Neil Warnock, should be ready for the challenge.

Far from being intimidated, Warnock and his players will look forward to the occasion.

Cardiff played in a similarly hostile environment against Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday and produced one of their best performances of the season to secure a 4-1 victory.

The win kept the Bluebirds in the thick of the automatic promotion battle, just three points behind second-placed Derby, who have played one game more.

Cardiff had to regroup after a disappointing festive period when they lost four games in succession and have done exactly that by taking seven points from the last nine available.

Warnock freshened up his squad with some astute January transfer dealings, including an eye-catching loan move for Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic.

Gary Madine was snapped up from Bolton for a reported £6m on deadline day to compete with Kenneth Zohore for the centre-forward position and Cardiff's squad is looking well equipped for the remaining months of the season.

Millwall are well on course to achieve their primary target of second-tier survival but the game comes at a tricky time, just three days after they exited the FA Cup with a 1-0 fourth-round replay loss at Rochdale.

Neil Harris made six changes for the game at Spotland, so his players shouldn't be at too much of a physical disadvantage.

But the loss to Rochdale will not have gone down well with the Lions' supporters, who knew that a victory would have set up an exciting fifth-round tie at home to Tottenham.

There could be a more muted atmosphere at the Den than has often been the case this season and, if Millwall's players are not quite at full throttle, they will not pose anywhere near the same threat.

Cardiff will be respectful of Millwall's home results this season but it looks a winnable game for them and they look decent value on the draw no bet.

Cardiff draw no bet
1pt Evs Hills

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Team news
Aiden O'Brien and Byron Webster are still sidelined but Tim Cahill, Ben Marshall and Harry Toffolo are all in contention.

Craig Bryson, Lee Peltier and Matt Connolly are nearing injury returns but Aron Gunnarsson remains sidelined. Joe Bennett is available after serving a one-match ban.

Key stat
Cardiff have lost one of their last six matches.

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Warnock freshened up his squad with some astute January transfer dealings, including a eye-catching loan move for Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic
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