Neil Warnock admits he asked too much of his key players in Cardiff City’s Championship match at Preston North End.
The Bluebirds manager has kept the same starting line-up for three league matches and his team looked jaded during the 3-0 defeat at Deepdale.
“The goals (we conceded) were terrible, but we had eight or nine lads not at the game,” said Warnock.
“The travelling we’ve done since Saturday – without it being an excuse – is more than any other team in the country and it’s not a coincidence there’s nine or ten lads not at the races.
“We were second best all night and if we hadn’t had been undefeated I would have made three or four changes.
“I blame myself quite a lot for not doing it, but it’s difficult when you haven’t lost. Hindsight’s a great thing but you’re a brave man to make changes when you’ve not lost a game – but that’s out of the way now and I can make changes when I see fit now.”
He is certain to make changes for Saturday’s home match against Sheffield Wednesday with Lee Tomlin, Liam Feeney, Craig Bryson, Danny Ward and Bruno Manga all in line to step in.
Centre-back Sol Bamba and centre-forward Kenneth Zohore were among those who struggled at Preston, while goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was left exposed by defensive frailties in front of him.
Warnock is far too experienced to panic after a lone defeat with his Bluebirds in second place, one point behind leaders Leeds United.
Once Saturday’s fixture is over the Bluebirds will have played four clubs in the top six places – and they take on top club Leeds United at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, September 26.
They have four Championship fixtures before the next international break in October and three of those are at home.
Sheffield Wednesday, this Saturday, Leeds and Derby County all come to South Wales, while Cardiff face a long trip to play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Warnock and his players were bitterly disappointed with their team own performance. Aron Gunnarsson and Joe Bennett threw their shirts into the away section at Deepdale, while goalkeeper Etheridge tossed his gloves among the 350 fans who made the trip.
Cardiff have seen standards dip in their last two matches and Warnock said: “We lost because we were second best and (conceded) three silly goals.
“We were tired out and they (Preston) were bright and we couldn’t get near them because we didn’t have the energy. We were second best but there was a reason for it and not all down to Preston being good, it was down to us not being at the races.”
Cardiff City’s four League matches before the international break are:
Saturday 16 v Sheffield Wednesday, home
Saturday 23 v Sunderland, away
Tuesday 26 v Leeds United, home
Saturday 30 v Derby County, home