Cardiff v Preston. Match preview

Last updated : 29 December 2017 By Michael Morris

C:WindowsTempphp734C.tmpThe Bluebirds face a tough Preston side at CCS tonight. City are looking to bounce back from two defeats over Christmas and also to avenge the 3 - 0 loss at Deepdale earlier in the season.

Aron Gunnarsson is absent again for tonight's Championship game, live on Sky Sports Football.

Iceland midfielder Gunnarsson, who has started only once since mid-October, faces another six weeks on the sidelines after undergoing ankle surgery.

Defender Sean Morrison (groin) remains out and is two to three weeks away from returning to action but there was some good news for Cardiff in the Boxing Day defeat to Fulham as striker Rhys Healey featured for the first time since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in February.

The Bluebirds have lost ground on Championship leaders Wolves and been overtaken by Bristol City after back-to-back losses against Bolton and Fulham.

But they have the chance to move back above City, who play Wolves on Saturday, by beating Preston, and manager Neil Warnock will not countenance any negativity.

He told the club's official website: "When you look at the money that some clubs have spent, I think we can be incredibly proud of where we find ourselves going into January. I don't think anybody expected us to be in the position we are.

"I thought we were unlucky at Bolton with the penalty decision having dominated the game and then Fulham were just a bit better than us the other day."

Preston have gone eight matches unbeaten but have a number of injury concerns. Alex Neil lost both Paul Gallagher (calf) and Calum Woods (dead leg) in Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Barnsley.

Tom Clarke, just back from an Achilles injury, was not risked, while Callum Robinson (foot) missed a contest that saw Greg Cunningham (knee) return to the bench as an unused substitute.

Darnell Fisher (hip), Josh Earl (knee), Tommy Spurr (knee) and Sean Maguire (hamstring) are all sidelined.

Opta stats

Cardiff are unbeaten in eight home league matches against Preston (W5 D3) since losing 1-0 in November 2004.

The Lilywhites haven't done a Football League double over the Bluebirds since the 2004/05 season.

The Bluebirds have lost each of their last two games in the Championship - they haven't lost three in a row since September 2016, in a run of four defeats that included one against Preston.

Preston are unbeaten in their last eight Championship games (W4 D4), while only table-topping Wolves are currently on a longer run without defeat (10 games).

Junior Hoilett has been directly involved in 12 league goals this term (six goals and six assists); already his most in a single campaign since 2011/12 with Blackburn Rovers (also 12).

Preston are the only side in the Championship yet to score in the first 15 minutes of a game this term, with their earliest goal coming in the 18th minute (Jordan Hugill v Fulham).

Match officials

Assistants: Neil Davies and Steven Meredith
Fourth Official: Brett Huxtable