Football Preview: Sports Journalism final year student Dan Cope looks ahead to the weekend’s action

Swansea City, Cardiff City, Newport County, Barry Town

Steve Cooper. Image courtesy of Swansea City

by Dan Cope

SWANSEA City will be looking to retain their place at their top of the EFL Championship tomorrow as they host the league’s bottom side Stoke City.

Stoke manager Nathan Jones is under huge pressure from the Stoke faithful as his team have taken just two points from a possible 30 and have also been knocked out of the third round of the Carabao Cup

The former Luton manager seemed resigned to losing his job at stoke after a 0-1 home defeat to fellow Championship strugglers Huddersfield.

The Welshman told BBC Radio : “I have tried to arrest the downward spiral but I haven’t been able to do that. We are nowhere near where we need to be and I take full responsibility for that.”

Swansea’s form has been much more positive, with Steve Cooper’s side go into the game off the back of a 2-1 victory away to Charlton Athletic, thanks to goals from Yan Dhanda and Andre Ayew and Cooper is expected to have both players available for the visit from the Potters.

Left back Jake Bidwell will also be returning to the squad from suspension after the 26 year old received a straight red card in the Swans’ 0-0 draw against Bristol City.

Full backs Kyle Naughton and Declan John have filled in for Bidwell during his absence and Cooper has praised the options he has in the full back department, describing the club as “blessed” as a result.

“We’ve got four full-backs that can perform at a really good level. Kyle, Connor and Jake have already shown that,” said the Swansea manager.

Midfielder George Byers will also return after missing the trip to Charlton through a minor injury, however, goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt will yet again miss out through illness.

Meanwhile, Cardiff City face a difficult trip to the Midlands on Saturday as they face West Bromwich Albion who currently sit third in the EFL Championship table.

Cardiff, who sit in 10th place, extended their unbeaten run to seven games on Wednesday night, after they defeated QPR 3-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

However, manager Neil Warnock believes his team’s visit to the Hawthorns will be a big challenge for them.

Warnock said: “We’re getting back to where we were. You’re tempting fate because this team on Saturday will test every aspect of our run, front and back.

“They are an all-round very good team. But I think we are too., so there’s no reason it can’t be a cracking game.”

Cardiff will be without the injured Sol Bamba who is still recovering from a knee ligament injury. Midfielder Joe Ralls is also a doubt, having sat out the Bluebirds’ victory over QPR through injury.

In League 2, Newport County host Carlisle United as Mike Flynn’s men look to continue their fine start to the season which has seen them slide into the play off places.

Flynn recently signed a new deal which will see him remain at Rodney Parade until at least June 2022.

He told BBC: “It’s a positive. It gives myself and the club a bit of security and it’s something – if I’m honest- I thought would have been done after the play-off final.”

Flynn’s time at Newport has been a success since he took over in March 2017. He guided Newport to the play-off final last season and a series of impressive cup runs, including County’s famous FA Cup victory over Leicester City.

Barry Town travel to Newtown in the Welsh Premier League. Barry currently sit top of the table, four points clear of second placed TNS, who they defeated 0-1 at Park Hall in what was a famous victory for Gavin Chesterfield’s side.