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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Friday, February 23rd 2018

Johnson prepared for tough, aggressive derby

City must be ready to do battle with their promotion-chasing rivals in Sunday's Severnside derby, head coach Lee Johnson has warned.

It's a mouth-watering fixture for both sets of fans and the Robins faithful have also been called on to raise the decibels at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The City boss is no stranger to the tie: he played against them a number of times as a player, scoring against the Bluebirds on New Year's Day in 2011 and he's managed four City matches against them - Sunday will be his fifth - since hanging up his boots.

Johnson told BCTV: "It’s been a fantastic season for them, there’s no doubting that. Neil (Warnock) has gone there after they were relegation fodder at one point. He’s turned them into genuine promotion candidates.

"We know it will be a good, tough derby, it will be an aggressive game too. We won’t have as many fans down there as we would have liked so there’s even more emphasis on our fans making the noise to help the boys on the pitch.

"I think they will be very functional, organised and they have a lot of physical players in their team. They make you defend all over the pitch."

WHAT HE SAID

"We won’t have as many fans down there as we would have liked so there’s even more emphasis on our fans making the noise to help the boys on the pitch."

Bristol City head coach, Lee Johnson

He continued: "It’s a difficult game but I don’t think the atmosphere will not be too intimidating because it’s a big stadium which, surprisingly, has had a few empty seats, despite their unbelievable season. That’s where it's been a good part for Bristol City this year [the large crowd following], the way the fans have shown how much they enjoy the way the lads have played and we hope to continue that mould and get a good win at Cardiff.

"You have to be ready for the battle, whatever your game is. I wasn’t a massive tackler, but I took a lot of responsibility to get the team ticking.

"Whatever your individual attributes are, the reason you are picked to play is because you can bring the best of it [your quality] out in that environment, particularly a derby environment because it means so much to the fans and it means so much to me as well."

PRAISE FOR REID

In his first season as a converted striker, Bobby Reid leads City's goal stats, having netted 16 times in the campaign. He will be looking to make it 17, or more, on Sunday.

Johnson said: "I’m delighted for him, yes. It’s funny how we pigeon-hole players in the fact we took an educated-punt in moving Bobby’s position and he’s taken to it so well. It’s great to see him up there with the top scorers in the division."

City head into Sunday's Severnside derby off the back off three consecutive draws, the latest being an impressive display against an in-form Fulham side.

The Robins will be hoping to emulate their 2-1 home win from November, when Callum O'Dowda and Aden Flint were on target to defeat the Bluebirds.

EXCLUSIVE: SKIPPER WRIGHT PREVIEWS THE SEVERNSIDE DERBY

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