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Welsh Football Preview: Championship, League Two and National league

Sabri Lamouchi is hoping Cardiff City can provide him with some home comforts on Saturday.

The Bluebirds boss takes charge in front of the club’s fans for the first time when they host Middlesbrough.

But Cardiff’s miserable recent form and awful scoring record means they will be big underdogs to get anything against opponents who lay third in the Championship.

Cardiff have lost their last four games in all competitions, including the two games Lamouchi has overseen – two away 1-0 defeats to Luton Town and then Hull City.

Worse still, Cardiff are by far and away the lowest scorers in the Championship with just 21 goals scored in 30 matches. The next lowest, bottom club Wigan Athletic, have scored 27.

Middlesbrough have managed 47, including five in their last two matches, and they have won nine of their last 12 matches.

But former Nottingham Forest manager Lamouchi believes a home fixture offers fresh hope for Cardiff and says: “I know this league and everything is possible.

“It’s an important game at home against ‘Boro – the first of 16 cup finals for us – and we must be ready. 

“Starting with two away games, at Luton and Hull, was tough and we deserved more than we got. We didn’t get any points and so we have to work to try to change the lost confidence.

“We need to be a little bit different, play with more aggression and determination and play to the final whistle.”

Cardiff are looking to complete the signing of free agent striker Connor Wickham in time to face Boro, knowing if they fail to win they could fall into the relegation zone.

It’s not been a great few weeks for either of Wales’ leading two clubs and Swansea City will also be firm underdogs to get anything away at promotion-chasing Sheffield United.

The Swans’ worst result of the season was the one they finished with at the end of the January transfer window – a 6-0 aggregate loss. Six players left the club during that month and they managed to sign no-one.

They then lost out on the pitch, throwing away the lead to go down 4-3 at home to Birmingham City.

Who concedes four to Birmingham? Answer – nobody else this season.

Head coach Russell Martin vented his anger and frustration, pointed his fingers across the Atlantic Ocean to the club’s American owners, but now insists he’s over it.

He will need to be and so will his players. The Swans have won just two of their last 13 Championship matches and have fallen five points adrift of the play-off places.

The Blades are unbeaten in their last 12 in all competitions and enjoyed a 3-1 victory over high-flying Wrexham in their midweek FA Cup replay.

Martin already sounds as if he’s looking to next season for a promotion push, rather than this campaign.

“If you haven’t got big financial resources you need time to build, and the one thing I have been given here is patience and support in that sense, in terms of the understanding of what we are trying to build,” he says.

Newport were the only south Wales club to win last weekend, when they overcame Swindon Town, 2-1 at Rodney Parade.

It was their first win in seven games, but they still won’t be favourites to back it up at 10th-placed Barrow, who are nine places above Newport.

Thank god – in a Welsh sense – for Wrexham who have won every home game they have played in the National League this season.

They host Wealdstone and will hope to bounce back quickly from that Cup replay defeat.

But Wealdstone could prove a tough nut to crack. They held the Dragons to goalless draw at their place back in November.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Sky Bet Championship

Cardiff City v Middlesbrough (3.00)

Sheffield United v Swansea City (3.00)

Sky Bet league Two

Barrow v Newport County (3.00)

National League

Wrexham v Wealdstone (3.00)

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