South Wales derbies: Two draws as Cardiff and Swansea prepare for restart

Neil Harris: You could see the fatigue in the players

The south Wales derby training games between Championship rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City ended even.

Two 80 minute sessions at Cardiff City Stadium finished 0-0 and 1-1 as the teams prepared for next weekend's Football League restart.

Swansea go to Middlesbrough on Saturday before Cardiff play leaders Leeds United the following day.

Cardiff manager Neil Harris says he and Swansea head coach Steve Cooper were happy with what they saw.

"Me and Steve were pleased with the output of the players in the game," said Harris.

The Bluebirds boss explained the fixtures were "vital" to both clubs as they target play-off spots following their lay-off during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Playing Swansea is about as close as we could have got to playing Leeds," said Harris.

Cardiff had also played Cheltenham in a warm-up session during midweek.

"It was vital. Me and Steve spoke before the game," said Harris.

"We know the intense rivalry, the importance of the rivalry and we know what it means to both clubs and both sets of supporters.

"But logistically we could only play Cheltenham, Swansea and Bristol City in friendlies.

"We have Bristol City coming up in a few weeks [in the Championship], it left us with Cheltenham and Swansea.

"You want to make the games as realistic as you possibly can. We have had such a short space of time to prepare."

Swans head coach Steve Cooper said: "We needed the friendly that's for sure. It's been a long time coming playing what feels like a major match and putting kit on.

"Playing in the (empty) stadium is not quite as it is normally but certainly a step forward to getting ready for the season.

"Time is precious at the moment, you want to use every day as much as you can to get ready for the season. So playing Cardiff twice worked well.''

Though both sides made what Harris called "adjustments" during the games as precautions, he hopes Cardiff's squad will come through unscathed as they build up to the final nine regular Championship games just two points off the play-offs and with the Swans a point behind.

"There were no referees and no linesmen, but the lads were brilliant and played in the right manner," said Harris.

"As you can imagine they were two well-matched sides in very even contests. It was a really good exercise for me and Steve.

"Score-lines were not what either manager was interested in, but they were really competitive and we are just pleased to get the fitness in the legs.

"We just hope both sets of players will only have picked up absolutely minor knocks and niggles and everyone can train on Monday."

Cooper was happy with his squad's fitness levels, saying:" The boys looked very motivated and if they're not quite there they're certainly not far off. The feedback from them was really positive.

"It was really important for individuals to get that amount of minutes in one go under their belts. We had no injuries from the day which is obviously a bonus because as I have said, we know we've done more than we should do with the players.

"I am sure a lot of managers will say that. But we have had to because we have to get ready for what is going to be a very busy time."

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