Bluebirds dealt Bellamy blow
Published 10/02/2014 | 19:02
Cardiff face being without Craig Bellamy for a critical period of their battle for Premier League survival, starting with Tuesday night's clash with Aston Villa, after the striker was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association.
Bellamy clashed with Swansea midfielder Jonathan de Guzman in Saturday's south Wales derby, appearing to catch the Dutchman with his arm as he ran past him during the second half of Cardiff's 3-0 defeat.
The incident was not seen by referee Andre Marriner and his fellow officials, and an FA statement read: ''Cardiff City's Craig Bellamy has been charged by The FA for violent conduct following an incident which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video.''
Bellamy has until 6pm on Tuesday to respond to the charge. Should the former Wales striker choose to accept it he will face a three-match ban and miss home Premier League meetings with Villa and Hull, either side of this weekend's FA Cup clash with Wigan.
Cardiff sit 19th in the table and, with an inferior goal difference to the sides above them, are effectively four points from safety ahead of Tuesday's clash with the Villans.
The Bluebirds need to get back on track against Villa, with or without Bellamy, or face the prospect of being cut off at the foot of the table.
Solskjaer is confident his men can do so, but acknowledged their derby nightmare had seen their hopes of avoiding the drop take a sizeable backward step.
He said: "We have two home games next and we have targeted them to get some points. We are striving for continued improvement, to develop the team and you saw signs of the team developing at Manchester City and Manchester United.
"I was pleased with the way we managed those games. The Swansea game was a step back, maybe even two steps back, in terms of the result and the way we played. We let them have too much possession and we need to bounce back and start again. That is the only way in football."
Villa boss Paul Lambert remains confident his side will avoid the drop, as they did last year, despite the dismal display against West Ham at the weekend, which saw the Midlands club suffer a 2-0 defeat in front of their home fans.
"There are two ways to look at it - (the situation) will either take you under, or you thrive on the challenge," said Lambert.
"It's the same as last year. You either meet it head-on or it takes you under.
"We came through last year when we were in a worse position than now, so we will come through this one.
"If you look at it everybody is capable of beating everybody else, with one win taking you up the table, one defeat dropping you down. That is the way it is at the moment."
The one downside for Lambert in visiting Cardiff is that close friend and fellow Scot Malky Mackay is no longer in charge after he was sacked just after Christmas.
Despite getting Cardiff promoted to the top flight last summer, Mackay found himself at the mercy of controversial owner Vincent Tan.
"I've spoken to him, but it's not something where I've sat and asked 'What happened?'," said Lambert.
"The job he did was excellent, getting promoted, which is never an easy thing to do, and he had the crowd right behind him.
"But football is a strange game at times.
"It's still going to be a really good atmosphere, and whether Malky was in charge or not, it was always going to be a hard game."
Lambert has doubts over defenders Ryan Bertrand (ribs) and Ron Vlaar (hamstring).