In his final pre-match press conference of the season, Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay addressed questions regarding Saturday’s trip to Hull City, Sunday’s promotion parade and preparation for life in the Premier League.
First up was the future of striker Heiðar Helguson, who this week returned home to his native Iceland.
“Heiðar might be semi-retiring back to Iceland next year,” Malky said. “That was always the plan from the start, and he’s been truly magnificent for me. His contribution has been huge on and off the pitch. He’s probably played more than he thought he was going to play.
“When Nicky Maynard got injured, he’s the man that really stepped up to the plate. His overall contribution, not just in terms of goals scored but the contribution to the goals of others. He’s been the front of the team for long spells, and he’s also a top pro. He’s a joy to have around, from the way he carries himself to the way he performs.
“Last summer he was willing to join us when we were a division below [his former club] QPR, and fortunately we got him. He’s the type of guy that I would fill a club with, and I’ve got great admiration for what he’s done in his career. He’s got a calf tweak at the moment.”
In terms of other injuries in the camp, Malky added: “Craig Bellamy’s got a tight Achilles that’s caused him some problems the past few days. Matt Connolly has got an ankle problem this week. Nicky [Maynard] has trained and will be part of the squad that goes up to Hull. He’s played in development games, and we’ll wait and see how the game goes as to whether we’ll bring him on. Etien [Velikonja] is another who’s deserved his chance and will definitely feature at some stage.”
This weekend sees the second nPower Championship automatic promotion place decided, and Cardiff will have a big role to play as they meet second-placed Hull City.
“The Hull fans will be tense this weekend,” Malky said, “But at the other end you’ll have our fans in their Donald Duck and Superman outfits, so it’ll be a very strange atmosphere.
“We’re playing in an £80 million game, so there’s an integrity there which hasn’t changed since we played Bolton. We’ll look to win every game because that’s what we do. We want to show by example and get as many points as we can.
“After forty-five games everyone is where they should be in the table. It shows how good a league it is, and shows how tight it is. That we are where we right now, when teams can still go down and the likes of Leicester, Bolton and Palace are still trying to get those Play-Off spots – I have to say I’m delighted not to be involved in that.”
Regardless of the outcome of the match, though, the Welsh capital will be a party city again on Sunday, as Malky and his players will parade the nPower Championship trophy around Cardiff.
“It’ll be a point in some people’s lives that they haven’t experienced before and may never experience again,” Malky said. “I think looking at the plans for Sunday, with 100,000 people out in Cardiff, it will be sensational.”
The next question put to City’s manager was whether or not some players may be turning out in a Cardiff City shirt for the last time this weekend.
“It’s possible,” he replied. “I don’t have a list of people playing tomorrow who won’t be playing in the Premier League. It’s one of those things, football moves on. You can look at this division: changes happen throughout the year, and I’ve got a great group of players that will be given a chance to impress.
“Our player recruitment department has been building for two years, and over the last six months we’ve been putting plans in place regardless of what division we’ll be in next season.”