Monday 20 November 2017

Cardiff offer backing to Gunnarsson

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and goalkeeper David Marshall have both launched a vehement defence of Aron Gunnarsson after he was linked to an alleged leak of team information.

The Bluebirds have lodged an official complaint with the Premier League, claiming that details of their team to tackle Crystal Palace on April 5 were leaked to officials at the London club.

Gunnarsson has been linked to the leak, but Solskjaer said the Welsh club would defend Gunnarsson's name and reputation "to the edge of the cliff," while Marshall said he "would put his life on it" that his team-mate was not involved. Gunnarsson has strenuously denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

Solskjaer also confirmed that the 24-year-old midfielder is set to be involved in Saturday's crunch Barclays Premier League clash at home to Stoke.

Press Association Sport understands that Cardiff have requested the result of the match - which finished 3-0 to Palace - be overturned.

"We will defend his name and reputation to the edge of the cliff, definitely," Solskjaer said.

"He will be involved in the squad, definitely (on Saturday). He is there training. He will be involved unless he gets an injury."

League chiefs will decide - possibly next week - whether the complaint should be taken forward. It is understood there remains uncertainty about whether any regulation would have been breached even if the allegation was proven.

If the complaint is taken forward it could be dealt with by either the Premier League's board or more likely an independent commission.

Cardiff's complaint centres on the circumstances surrounding the alleged leaking of their team.

Palace sporting director Iain Moody worked for Cardiff until earlier this season before taking up a post at Selhurst Park in November.

It has been reported that Cardiff believe Moody might have used his contacts at the Welsh club, or close to Cardiff, to find out which players would start against Palace.

Moody, though, has rejected the allegations as "incredibly, extraordinarily untrue" and Palace have also consistently denied the claims.

Marshall added: "The one thing I will say is that Aron would never give somebody, or the opposition manager or anybody our team line-up to try and help them and go against us.

"He is one of the hardest-working and most honest people I have come across in the game, so I don't know how it has come across that Aron's given it, but I would put my life on it that Aron has not been involved in it."

Solskjaer said Cardiff had dealt with issues internally and sent their report to Premier League chiefs.

"We trust the Premier League to deal with whatever is required," he said.

"We've had issues, we deal with it as a club and you move on. You want to try to get past that, of course. You want to become a club that just talks about the football.

"But we are in a fight to survive, and there is always going to be some noise on and off the pitch.

"I did have a good guess-estimate of Palace's team. That's just football, you do your ground work, you have got your scouts, you analyse them, but we do it the right way."

Palace manager Tony Pulis said on Friday that the Cardiff issue had not overshadowed the achievement of reaching 40 league points following a stunning midweek win at Everton, and denied having done anything wrong.

" If we have to go up and meet the Premier League, or whoever it is that we have to meet, then we'll do it in the right and proper manner. We won't do it any other way, and I think that is important," Pulis said.

"As a manager and as a coach, I log every session that I do, and I'll be taking those sessions up to the Premier League to show that I picked my team on Monday before we played Cardiff on the Saturday.

"That team was worked with for a week and there were no changes in it whatsoever."

Cardiff's immediate challenge is to halt a Stoke side that has lost just one of its last seven league games and moved 10th in the table.

Cardiff, in contrast, are three points from safety with just four games left, although they will hope to summon the spirit of Southampton last weekend when they claimed an unexpected 1-0 win at St Mary's.

"With Aron's situation the last couple of days it has probably brought the team closer," Marshall added.

"That was one of our main strengths last year, how tight the group was, and even though the things we have gone through this year - the change of manager, change of personnel and staff - it has remained like that.

"It probably felt as if we had a point to prove after the Palace game and all the stuff that came out before Southampton, and that showed in our performance."

Press Association

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