Kenny Miller's scoring 'instinct' delights Cardiff manager Malky Mackay

Kenny Miller (centre) is mobbed by his Cardiff team-mates after scoring against Birmingham
Kenny Miller (centre) is mobbed by his Cardiff team-mates after scoring against Birmingham

Kenny Miller is beginning to show the predatory instincts that makes him one of Europe's leading marksmen, according to Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay.

Scotland striker Miller scored his seventh goal of the season on Sunday to give Cardiff a 1-0 win over Birmingham.

"He was Europe's fifth-highest goal-scorer last year," said Mackay.

"Instinct is definitely something he brings, but he brings hard work and that's something you have to bring if you're going to be successful."

Mackay tempted Miller to join Cardiff from Turkish side Bursaspor in July despite a late attempt by Rangers to re-sign their former top scorer.

The 31-year-old left the Ibrox side in January, but his 21 goals before leaving ensured he was still the Scottish Premier League's top scorer at the end of the season.

Miller showed his finishing prowess in midweek when he scored with his first attempt at goal to put Cardiff ahead against Blackburn in the 2-0 Carling Cup quarter-final victory.

And his eye for a goal was against evident against Birmingham as he pounced on a loose ball to extend the Bluebirds' unbeaten run to 10 games.

"Kenny's instinct in managing to get to the ball showed the sharpness of the player now," added Mackay.

"He's someone that came in at the start of the season and didn't really have a pre-season behind him, but he's now beginning to learn how people play here and how they link up with each other.

"His work-rate and his effort are great. He's a leader for us and he's... showed that leadership in terms of his goal, in terms of his work-rate."

Hard work was a recurring theme as Mackay assessed Cardiff's recent fine form that has taken them to third in Championship.

He said that a willingness and appetite for training ground excertion has been all the more imperative for a newly-built squad.

Miller is one of 12 new players to have arrived since Mackay took over in June and the manager admits they have gelled better than expected.

"From the start of the season I thought we could fast-track them in terms of knowing how each other play," he said.

"You've got to work hard on the training pitch to make it work quickly and to that extent we've clicked a little quicker than I thought we would as a team."

Cardiff suffered a mini injury-crisis as Stephen McPhail and Andrew Taylor were ruled out before facing Birmingham, and then Anthony Gerrard, Aron Gunnarsson and Philip Kiss were forced to leave the field injured during the match.

Mackay is confident none of those injuries will prove to be long-term, and he was thankful for a break in the hectic fixture list.

"We don't have a midweek game this week for the first time in a number of weeks so I'm delighted we're into next week [for the next game]," he said.