Joe Ralls believes Cardiff City can use their home form revival to end their away day misery when they face West Ham on Tuesday night.
The Bluebirds have won three out of their last four home fixtures, a resurgence that has seen them climb out of the relegation zone and up to 16th place in the table.
But Neil Warnock’s side have been unable to transfer that gear shift to their away form, which remains the joint-worst in the league alongside Fulham, with a just a single point collected.
“We have shown a lot of character in the home games, but we have also been very positive and that’s what we need more of away from home,” says Ralls.
“That was the game plan last week against Wolves – to get on the front foot and put them under pressure.
“It’s a little bit harder to do that away from home, but we need to be more assertive, rather than sit back and allow teams to come at us.
“West Ham is a good opportunity and back-to-back wins would be huge, but they are a very dangerous team with excellent front players.”
Ralls played a prominent part in both the victories over Wolves and Brighton but the 25-year-old missed the win over Fulham, which kick-started Cardiff’s season, as he was serving a three-match ban following his red card against Tottenham.
The club appealed against the sending off – and were unsuccessful – but looking back now on the dismissal, Ralls admits his trip on Lucas Moura was unwise and the ticking off he earned from Warnock was justifiable.
“The manager wasn’t too happy with the sending off and let me know about it.
“It was a bit of a silly challenge and it meant a frustrating three-match ban, which turned out to be four weeks without playing because of the international break and an injury.
“It’s often a tough call with those decisions being red or yellow and sometimes there are inconsistencies, but it’s best not to give referees the option.”
Ralls may have left his manager frustrated over that suspension, but the midfielder’s overall contribution is highly valued by his boss as evidenced by the way in which he was drafted straight back into the side.
His calmness, workrate and accuracy of passing has been as much a feature in the Premier League as it was last season in the Championship and he believes there is more to come.
“I’m enjoying playing in the Premier League and feel I’m adjusting more to it as the season goes on, like a lot of the players.
‘There’s a fantastic spirit in the squad and if the manager can strengthen things a little in January, then I think we can keep on improving.
“He’s a manager players want to play for. His man-management skills are excellent. He can put an arm around a player’s shoulder and make you believe, but he also gives you the freedom to play your own game.
“He also creates a great togetherness. This squad has been together for a while and there is a great team spirit, which will be an advantage when the campaign comes to the crunch.”
Cardiff appear to have no fresh injury concerns. But it is unclear whether striker Kenneth Zohore, who has been recovering from a calf problem, is set to be involved, while defender Greg Cunningham was another player who missed Friday’s 2-1 win over Wolves.
Makeshift forward Callum Paterson led the line in the win over Wolves and Warnock said Zohore would have to work hard before he was welcomed back into the team.
He said: “Ken is stepping up from Monday. He’s pain-free for the first time and has done some work with the rehab guys.
“I said to Ken he’s got to set his stall out. I know (Callum) Paterson is doing well but he’s a made to measure striker.
“He’s got to push himself now to get back in the team.”
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be looking to make his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury in August after he was back in the match day squad as an unused substitute for Friday’s contest.
Defenders Aaron Cresswell and Fabian Balbuena are doubts for West Ham.
Cresswell sustained a hamstring problem in Saturday’s win over Newcastle, while Balbuena suffered a knock and both will be assessed.
Ryan Fredericks, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez and Andriy Yarmolenko are all out.