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12th January 2020

In_pictures Cardiff City v Swansea City: History beckons for Neil Harris and Steve Cooper

In_pictures Cardiff City v Swansea City: History beckons for Neil Harris and Steve Cooper

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A repeat or redemption? Cardiff and Swansea prepare for Sunday’s south Wales derby

History beckons for Cardiff City and Swansea City on Sunday – but only one of them wants it.

This will be the 109th south Wales derby and, despite the two sides being in the same division on 30 occasions before this season, neither side has ever done the double and won both league meetings.

There have been 20 opportunities for one of the clubs to do so having won the first league game in a season – 12 for Swansea, eight for Cardiff.

At Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, the latest chance falls to the Swans, who triumphed 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium in October.

“We are aware winning two games in a season has never been done,” says head coach Steve Cooper.

“But the closer you get to the game the more you have to stay focussed on what it takes to win the football match and that is the performance and a mentality and a togetherness and a style to get over the line.

“But it just adds to the motivation. Store it in your head, make sure it drives you to the places you need to go.

“Yes, there is always context around the game. This one is very different. It’s a game that matters, big time. So we know that.”

Cooper’s counterpart, Neil Harris, is fully aware of the fixture’s magnitude.

This will be Harris’ first derby in charge of Cardiff, who were under the guidance of Neil Warnock when they lost in Swansea earlier this season.

And while he is relatively new to the Welsh capital, Harris has experienced feisty derbies having played for and managed the likes of Millwall and Nottingham Forest.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” the former Cardiff striker says.

“I’ve not featured in this fixture but I’ve played in a lot of derbies over the years and managed in them, and they’re great occasions.

“What I’ve seen from the players this week, they’re really looking forward to it.

“I had to stop training short today [Friday] because the intensity was so good.

“We’re fully aware of the record, we’re fully aware of the result in the corresponding fixture and the record over the past 100-odd years.

“Of course that brings a pressure – it’s the same pressure on me as it is on Coops, that you don’t want to lose a derby.

“You have to get it right tactically, get it right with team selection and then you have to rely on your players, and I’ve got a top group of players and I trust them to put a performance in.”

Ben Wilmot’s goal gave Swansea a 1-0 win over Cardiff in October 2019

Baptism of fire for young England stars?

While the south Wales derby is a huge occasion in itself for both clubs, it is also significant in terms of the Championship.

Swansea have the edge as far as league standings go, currently in sixth spot, four points and six places ahead of their rivals.

And with the January transfer window open, Cooper has already strengthened his squad with the loan signings of Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster and Chelsea defender Marc Guehi.

Both players were a part of Cooper’s England’s Under-17s World Cup-winning team in 2017 and, although they have featured for their clubs in cup competitions, neither has played in the League.

Cooper, however, believes both could feature at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.

“I would not bring them here if I did not think they could play in any Championship game,” he says.

“I know Sunday is different, but that is part and parcel of a Championship or Football League experience in playing. Each game has different contexts to it.”

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All pictures via Getty Images.

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