Malky Mackay hopeful over Stephen McPhail return

Stephen McPhail
Stephen McPhail has been restricted to 16 appearances this season

Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay hopes to have Stephen McPhail back in action for the club's final Championship promotion push.

Midfielder McPhail, who has been hit by a recurrence of the illness Sjogren's Syndrome, is back in training.

Mackay sees the Republic of Ireland international as key in getting the Bluebirds back into the play-off hunt.

"His situation changes... but I would love to get him available for the last 10 games," said Mackay.

"[I'm] delighted with Stephen McPhail. We are very hopeful he will play a part sooner rather than later.

"Stephen is a man. He's a leader. He is a top player. He is someone I really wish I had more of this season."

Mackay has only been able to have the 32-year-old Irishman, who is remission from stage one lymphoma, for 10 of 34 Championship matches this season.

McPhail has not played since the 1-1 draw with leaders Southampton at the end of January after suffering further problems with Sjogren's Syndrome, which causes fatigue and joint pain.

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has also been diagnosed with the condition and has spoken to McPhail about how best to treat it.

"From the first day I came in I have been impressed with him, the boy and the man that he is and the way that he handles himself," added Mackay.

"I would have loved to have him for the whole of the season. When he does get involved he shows a calmness, a maturity. To have him back it will be like signing a new player.

"He give as a real calmness on the ball and that is a great trait to have in football."

Mackay, who will be with out Rudy Gestede for 10 days to two weeks with a hamstring injury picked up in the defeat to West Ham, is conscious he needs as many fit players as possible for the final 12 games.

After their 2-2 draw at Brighton on Tuesday, Cardiff City are lying eighth in the Championship, a point off the play-off zone and travel to Bristol City on Saturday.

Mackay has already conceded that an automatic play-off place is probably out of Cardiff's reach and he knows it is going to be a busy couple of months in the fight to secure a play-off spot

"They [the games] are coming thick and fast. There's eight games in March. Would I have that? No I wouldn't. I'd rather have a game every Saturday," he said.

"But it's just the way it is. That's the way it's going to be between now and the end of the season. There's going to be a lot of games in a short space of time. It's the case for quite a lot of teams."

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