Praise for former City winger’s attitude after keeping Cardiff’s promotion hopes alive
- Credit: PA
Josh Murphy could yet be passing former club Norwich City on his way back to the Premier League this summer, after reemerging at a crucial time to leave Cardiff on the cusp of the Championship play-offs.
After a hot streak of five goals in six games in January and February the Canaries academy product was on the fringes of Neil Harris’ team since the season resumed in June.
But he replaced the injured Junior Hoilett in the 17th minute at Middlesbrough on Saturday and scored twice in a 3-1 win over Neil Warnock’s side, the man who took him to Cardiff in 2018.
That was a deal worth in excess of £10million after the FA Youth Cup winner had scored 20 goals in 108 games for City, yet he was unable to prevent the Bluebirds’ relegation from the top flight scoring three goals and assisting two in 29 games last season.
That saw Norwich passing Cardiff on their way to the Premier League but with City relegated, the South Wales side could yet be trading places with the Canaries, sitting sixth and three points clear of rivals Swansea with one game left, at home to free-falling Hull on Wednesday.
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“Football is such a strange industry, one minute you are the hero, the next you are the villain,” Cardiff boss Harris said of Murphy after the win at Boro, speaking to Wales Online.
“Sometimes, you are in the changing room and you’re not feeling part of it, the gaffer has not given you a chance, you want to get on the pitch, you’ve not played as much as you wanted to.
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“It changes so quickly. I just said to the guys there that Murph is an example. He has not played a great deal in the last few weeks, looked a little bit like he was feeling sorry for himself, because he wants to play and he just loves football.
“So, today, with Junior’s misfortune in coming off, we put Murph in a physical battle, we trust him and he pops up with two goals.
“That’s how quickly the game can change.”
The 25-year-old, who grew up near Downham Market, has eight goals and three assists to his name from 30 goals in all competitions this season.
He could face a former Norwich team-mate in the play-offs if that place in the top six is sealed, with Southampton loanee Harrison Reed a regular in midfield for Fulham, who sit fourth but do still have a slim chance of automatic promotion ahead of the final day.
Leeds are already promoted as champions but West Brom are second on 82 points ahead of a home game against mid-table QPR on Wednesday, while third-placed Brentford are a point further back before hosting struggling Barnsley and Fulham are two points behind the Baggies ahead of a trip to in-form Wigan.
Reed will miss that game however as he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards during a 5-3 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, with former Norwich winger Jacob Murphy on target for the visitors.
Murphy, twin brother of Josh, is still a Newcastle player but has spent the season with Wednesday. The loanee has managed eight goals and six assists in 38 Championship games, with the Owls meandering in mid-table.
The play-off hopes of former Norwich boss Alex Neil and goalkeeper Declan Rudd are over, with Preston five points adrift of the top six despite a 2-0 home win over Birmingham.
Former Canaries favourite Jonny Howson is not yet sure of survival with Middlesbrough ahead of a trip to Wednesday but Boro would need Luton and Charlton to both win to be in any danger of going down on the final day.
Howson will miss the game at Hillsborough though after bent sent off after receiving two yellow cards during the defeat to Cardiff.
Ex-Canaries defender Dani Ayala and former Norwich loanee Patrick Roberts are both also in the squad - although Wigan’s probable 12-point deduction for going into administration makes it even less likely that Boro will go down.