'As close as we could have got to playing Leeds United' - Cardiff City boss Neil Harris reflects on Bluebirds warm-ups

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BOSS Neil Harris admitted there was fatigue in every single player as Cardiff City warmed up for their Championship restart against Leeds United with two draws against Swansea City.

Championship front-runners Leeds will visit Cardiff for a 12 noon kick-off next Sunday behind closed doors for their first game back after what will have been a 15-week break in play due to the country's battle against coronavirus.

Cardiff, who sit ninth but just two points off the play-offs, warmed up for the Whites test with two 80-minute matches at Cardiff City Stadium against Steve Cooper's Swansea City with the sessions ending in 0-0 and 1-1 draws.

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

CLOSER TOGETHER: Neil Harris and his Cardiff City squad. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.CLOSER TOGETHER: Neil Harris and his Cardiff City squad. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.
CLOSER TOGETHER: Neil Harris and his Cardiff City squad. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.

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

"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, so it left us with Cheltenham and Swansea.

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

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

"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.

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

Assessing the impact of the pandemic on his squad and the new rule allowing a match-day squad of 20 and five substitutes, Harris reasoned: "What this has done, what we have been through as a group, what Wales has been through and Cardiff as a club and the UK on a whole, what this has done has brought everybody closer together in my first few months in charge.

"What having nine subs and using five enables us to do is firstly keep pretty much the core of the group together on match days, everybody is involved.

"And then the flip side of it, the five subs being allowed on the pitch, with such a short build in, we are going to need five subs on match days, especially early on.

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"There was some fatigue today, in every player on the pitch there was some fatigue and you can just see at the end of the games the importance there is going to be in being able to bring fresh bodies on."

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