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Stakes are high for Bluebirds boss
Published : 12 Sep 2009 10:50:43
The Bluebirds led the way in the standings before a 2-0 reverse against Doncaster in the final round of fixtures before the international break, a result which paved the way for the rejuvenated Magpies to take over at the top. Third-placed Cardiff, two points behind the leaders, boast a perfect record at the new Cardiff City Stadium - where they have won both of their league matches so far, scoring seven goals and conceding none in the process. Chris Hughton's Newcastle arrive in the Welsh capital with a similarly impressive record, however - the Magpies having gone close to seven hours without conceding a league goal while racking up four wins and a draw from their first five games. Everything is teed up perfectly for what should be a high-quality tussle between the two title challengers, and Bluebirds boss Jones is relishing the challenge of taking on a side bang in form. "They're a Premier League football club in this division," he said. "I think this is one of the biggest league games this football club has had for many a year, because of who we are playing." Jones believes the form of Newcastle in the wake of last season's relegation from the top flight should come as no surprise, saying: "Everybody wrote them off - the so-called experts, not the people within the game. "They knew they had good players, and the staff know their players because they've been there a while. "Nobody expected them to be as bad as what the experts were saying, because players have a lot of pride." Jones has been given a boost for the match with the news striker Jay Bothroyd has been passed fit, although Ross McCormack and Kevin McNaughton remain doubts. Bothroyd was forced off early in the loss at Doncaster on August 29, and has since undergone tests on his knee and hamstring. "Jay is back in training and he'll be okay," Jones added on www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk. "The only injury worries we have now are Ross McCormack and Kevin McNaughton. "Ross is getting near, but I'm told that Kevin could be another few weeks away." The Magpies head south with Hughton's options once again limited by injuries, striker Andy Carroll and Jonas Gutierrez still on the sidelines. He will also be without leading scorer Shola Ameobi for several weeks, after revealing the 27-year-old has undergone foot surgery. Hughton said: "Shola has had a minor operation on his foot. We are still to determine what period of time that will keep him out, but it will be a matter of weeks. "What happened was he had had stress on the bone, and they felt they needed to do something to guarantee it ended up being no more than that." The injury concerns are likely to see Newcastle turning to the transfer market to strengthen, with Hull striker Caleb Folan a reported loan target. "We certainly feel we do need to strengthen this squad," Hughton added. "Even looking at the programme over the next few weeks, it's a very busy programme. "We were very grateful for the international break. But yes, we are looking to strengthen and certainly we will endeavour to do that over the coming weeks."