Cardiff City will host their first Barclays Premier League fixture when Manchester City travel to the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.
After 51 years outside of the top flight, Malky Mackay’s side suffered a 2-0 defeat against West Ham United on the opening day of the season and now face Manuel Pellegrini’s team, who began with a 4-0 victory over Newcastle United.
Mackay knows that Sunday’s clash will be a tough test for his side, but he has challenged them to rise to the occasion and compete with the 2012 Barclays Premier League champions.
“They’re a top, top side,” Mackay said. “There’s a task ahead of us and you can see how quickly they got in their stride with the new manager [on] Monday. I wouldn’t say it’s daunting, but they’ve got one of the best squads in the country. We’ve got to make sure we’re competitive.”
The two sides have not met since an FA Cup clash in 1994 – which Cardiff won 1-0 – and in the league their paths have not crossed for 28 years. Craig Bellamy is expected to face the club he left in 2011.
Cardiff have a fully fit squad to choose from after Andrew Taylor completed a ban and Andreas Cornelius returned to full training this week following an ankle injury. Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany (groin) will not travel to the Welsh capital, leaving Pellegrini with a gap in central defence. Pellegrini has suggested that his captain could be out for a month.
Joleon Lescott partnered the Belgian against Newcastle because of an ankle injury for Matija Nastasic, and although the Serb has returned to training this week, the Cardiff match is likely to come too soon for him. That leaves Micah Richards and Javi Garcia in contention to replace Kompany, although the former is nursing a knock, so Dedryck Boyata could be involved. New striker Stevan Jovetic is likely to be in contention after a minor hamstring problem ruled him out of the opening-day win.
Cardiff City (from): Lewis, Marshall, Moore, Brayford, Caulker, Connolly, Hudson, Lappin, McNaughton, Taylor, Turner, Conway, Cowie, Gunnarsson, Kim, Kiss, Medel, Mutch, Noone, Whittingham, Bellamy, Campbell, Cornelius, Gestede, Mason, Maynard, Smith, Velikonja.
Manchester City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Wright, Boyata, Clichy, Kolarov, Lescott, Nastasic, Richards, Zabaleta, Barry, Garcia, Fernandinho, Milner, Nasri, Navas, Razak, Rodwell, Silva, Toure, Aguero, Dzeko, Guidetti, Jovetic, Negredo.
Referee: Lee Probert. Assistants: R Ganfield, R West. Fourth Official: L Mason.