By Paul Jones
Cardiff City manager Neil Harris has claimed Leeds United’s win at Swansea City was the perfect birthday present.
Now he wants the Bluebirds to continue his celebrations against Derby on Tuesday night.
Play-off-chasing Cardiff saw their bitter rivals Swansea lose ground on the top six after a last-gasp defeat to leaders Leeds on Sunday – the day gaffer Harris turned 43.
Cardiff are sixth ahead of facing Wayne Rooney’s Derby, but have lost their last two games and will be under pressure against a Rams side who must win to keep their own slim promotion hopes alive.
“Leeds beating Swansea was a good start to my birthday,” Harris said. “As a manager there are so many games to focus on. It’s hard to relax and it can be quite draining watching other results.
“After two defeats we’re still in sixth place and I think another seven points will guarantee us that spot. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t and that’s what the aim is.
“This situation is why I came to Cardiff City. I’m really enjoying it and we still have our fate in our hands.”
Derby go into the game on the back of consecutive defeats at the hands of Brentford and West Bromwich Albion, and manager Phillip Cocu has said there is no room for error.
Asked if there will be a desperation for Derby to win, Harris said: “Yeah, a lot of risk and reward, just like when Blackburn Rovers came to us. We understand that.
“There is an element to some teams that they have to win games of football. Derby have some talented players, just like others in the top 10 in this division.
“We have to make sure we are on our game to deal with their threats, like Wayne Rooney, for example.
“He’s a part of the way they play in the way they want to pass the ball. Possession-based, very patient in their build up and they have had success doing it.
“When you put a player of that quality into the team it’s going to make you into a better football club.
“I don’t think the players need reminding of his ability. He has captained his country for so long.
“We have to make sure we are better with the ball. The disappointment at Fulham on Friday was that against a good pressing side we could have had more composure in the first half.”
Cardiff have no fresh injury concerns for Derby after Friday’s defeat at Fulham.
Skipper Sean Morrison will be tasked with keeping former England captain Rooney quiet as Cardiff look to get back to winning ways.
“Cardiff is a club which has unfinished business in the Premier League,” said Morrison, who was relegated from the top-flight with the club under Neil Warnock last season.
“With three games to go there are still a lot of teams in the mix, but if you’d told us when football returned it would still be in our hands now then we’d have bitten your hand off.
“Promotion is our goal and we are fully focused on that. Once you get into the play-offs it’s a lottery and anything can happen.”