Neil Harris. Pic: Getty Images.

Neil Harris Axes Neil Etheridge As Steve Cooper Finds Positives In The Long Grass At Cardiff

Neil Harris axed Neil Etheridge for the derby clash with Swansea City as the keeper heads closer to the exit door at Cardiff.

With Etheridge continuing to be linked with a move to West Ham, Harris opted to give Alex Smithies his chance and hinted that one of his three keepers will be leaving the club during the transfer window.

Smithies had few saves to make in a derby that petered out after the interval with both sides suggesting they had done enough to win.

So no derby double history for the Swans with manager Steve Cooper taking a dig at the length of the playing grass at Cardiff City Stadium afterwards.


Neil Etheridge left out of derby clash amid speculation over his future. Pic: Getty Images.

“I won’t go into too much detail at the moment. There’s been a lot of talk around Neil, not just in this window but in the previous window as well,” said Neil Harris.

“I had a really good couple of conversations with Neil in the week about his standards and what he wants to get back to. Without speaking out of turn, I think it’s been a little bit up and down.

“The lad wants to be consistent, he wants to be settled and play football. To do that sometimes, especially in these games, you need to be at your best. You need to be focused.

“I made the decision to leave him out. He understood. He wanted to play obviously but Alex has wanted to play every game since I’ve been here, and Joe Day wants to play as well.

“It’s nice to have three senior goalkeepers that are all talented and want to play and develop. We’ll see what unfolds during the window. I thought Alex did really well today.

“Alex is a quality goalkeeper who’s proved himself year after year playing in the Championship.

“Moving forward, they’re good goalkeepers, really good goalkeepers. It’s a wonderful position for me to be in.

“You want happy players as well. They want to play.

“We’ve got three goalkeepers who all deserve to play first-team football and three don’t go into one, so something will have to give before 1 February.”

Harris also refused to be drawn on a future bid for Wales striker Kieffer Moore after his Wigan manager Paul Cook revealed that Cardiff had had a bid – reported to be £2.3million – turned down.

“Kieffer is not my player to talk about,” added Harris. “We have enquired about a lot of players in the last seven to 10 days.

“I’m pleased with the group of players I have got here if we can add to that with one or two it would be good.

“Every player has got a valuation. People’s valuations may be different.

“After losing the first game you do not want to lose back-to-back derbies.

“I think over the course of the 90 minutes we were the better team, but there was not a lot in it.”

Loan signing Rhian Brewster was given an immediate start by Swansea boss Steve Cooper. Pic: Swansea City.

The draw left the Swans back outside of the play-offs on goal difference with Cardiff four points further back.

Both sides hit the woodwork in a game that began brightly but petered out into a tepid affair after the break.

Bersant Celina curled an effort onto the inside of the post in the first-half after a swift breakaway by the Swans led by George Byers.

But Callum Paterson could have snatched victory for the Bluebirds with 13 minutes left when he headed onto the bar from fellow sub Josh Murphy’s deep cross.

Loan signing Rhian Brewster’s first meaningful touch in a Swans shirt brought a booking for a lunging tackle on Lee Tomlin.

The Liverpool striker did some flashes of skill firing one chance wide on 68 minutes after probably the best, most incisive move of the second-half.

Robert Glatzel has Cardiff’s best chances of the opening half sending a glancing header wide before forcing keeper Freddie Woodman to turn another header around the post.

There was only one real flashpoint after Glatzel reacted to a challenge from centre-back Ben Cabango, with several players from both sides getting involved in the centre-circle.

So no history for the Swans who had the chance to create history by becoming the first team to celebrate the derby double.

Steve Cooper, who opted not to make any substitutions keeping his other loan signing Marc Guehi on the bench, said: It was a tough pitch. The grass was a bit long, but that’s their prerogative.

“Maybe it was the Christmas period and people had days off.

“The game petered out into a goal-less draw and they will be happier with the point.

“Rhian catches the eye trying to score goals but he does a lot off the ball. It was a good experience for him, but he is here to deliver.

“He likes a battle and I know he can handle this league.

“If we were going to make a change it was going to be a positive one, but just felt we wanted that one moment with the boys on the pitch.

“There’s lots of positives with the two young centre-backs, a clean sheet. Not sure if missed opportunity is the right term, but our main objective was to win.

“The fans seemed happy at the end. They can see the players trying and wanting to win.

“I am frustrated but that’s not with the players, just the way it ended up. It was a derby and on tele, it should have been better. Sorry about that.”






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