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Kidology, mind games, or maybe just an off-guard truth: Welsh Weekend Football

Kidology, mind games, or maybe just an off-guard truth – whatever it was, Michael Duff must have his players wandering at Swansea City.

After going on a five-match unbeaten run – with four successive victories – the Swans players might have imaged their boss would be bigging them up before they take on Championship leaders Leicester City this weekend.

Instead, it was the Foxes who came on for lavish praise from Duff as the club season resumes after the international break.

Following a draw at Queens Park Rangers, Duff’s side have reeled off wins against Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Norwich City and Plymouth Argyle.

That spurt has moved them up to 12th in the Championship table, just three points outside the play-off places.

But Duff has warned his players they are up against what he believes are the best team in the division.

“I think they will win the league,” said Duff.

“I think they are better than Burnley last year, which probably tells you everything.

“Teams have gone different ways about trying to beat them and they have worked it out every time because they have got good players. We will have to try and come up with something and impose us on them.”

Swans striker Liam Cullen picked up a notable cap last week, but now he wants a big scalp to go with it.

Cullen made his full senior Wales debut in the friendly against Gibraltar, a match that served as the warm-up to Wales’ sensational Euro qualifiers victory over Croatia.

Now, it’s back to the day job for Cullen with the Swans and the opportunity to take down Championship leaders at the Stadium.

Leicester, however, will provide the sternest test possible as the former Premier League club top the table, having won 10 of their 11 matches played.

“It is still very early on in the season, there is a lot of football still to be played and I think the aim for us now is to become that consistent team by continuing to show what we have shown over these last four or five games,” said Cullen.

“Hopefully we can keep kicking on, and taking on the league leaders at home is an exciting game to come back to.

Higher up the table than the Swans, in eighth place, sit Cardiff City, who are away to Blackburn Rovers.

The Bluebirds, though, were starting to stumble before the break, with only one win in four matches and defeat at Rovers – plus a surprise win for the Swans – would see the Welsh rivals swap places in the table.

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut issued some home truths earlier in the week, particularly around the defensive work – or lack of it as he saw it – of Callum Robinson and Rubin Colwill.

It was their failure to work hard enough when opponents had the ball, claimed Bulut, that was keeping the pair out of his starting line-up.

“Some players like to play with the ball, I appreciate this, but without this they have to work for the team,” said Bulut.

“Both Callum and Rubin are included in this. It’s not enough or what I am expecting from them to be in the starting 11. I cannot play with 10 players. I need 11.”

Blackburn were 4-0 winners at QPR in their last game, but had previously lost four league matches in succession.

Newport County manager Graham Coughlan hopes to celebrate a year in charge at Rodney Parade on Friday night, with a victory at home to Walsall.

County have hit a rough patch and are down in 20th place in League Two, a point beneath where they were a year ago when the Irishman took charge.

He said: “I think it’s been one thing after another, which is really difficult. Have I had a clear run at it to make the progress I would have liked? Probably not.

“But I suppose that is what makes the team, the club, the man, that I am – the adversity and the fire fighting. I think I have become a better manager, better person dealing with issues and problems.”

At the other end of League Two, fifth-placed Wrexham can climb nearer the top of the table if they can win away at Bradford City.

It’s a return to his former club for Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson, who says: “I have got some fantastic memories of being at Bradford.

“They have had a bit of resurgence but we will go there and give it everything we have got to keep our run going.”

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