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Football: Suffo and Doyle aid top-half expectation; Coventry City v Cardiff City.

Eric Black is looking to steer Coventry City into the top half of the First Division table for the first time this season but believes that Cardiff City provide a stern test at Highfield Road today (12.30pm).

Black, who is in control of the Coventry team in the absence because of personal reasons of Gary McAllister, can welcome Patrick Suffo and Michael Doyle from suspension for the match. McAllister, the player-manager, is doubtful.

Black said: 'It was vital that we got the three points against Wimbledon on Wednesday because it takes us up five or six places and we have to build on that now.

'As we have seen, a few points can soon shoot you up the league, so it is crucial we continue in the same vein.

'Back-to-back wins would be lovely and that's what we will be aiming to do. We are under no illusions that it will be an exceptionally difficult match against Cardiff who are playing very well at the moment.

'They took a point up at Sunderland and I am led to believe they should have won the game, but hopefully the boys will be lifted by the win against Wimbledon --not maybe by the performance but from the endeavour and the three points.'

Concerning the return of Suffo and Doyle, who have completed three-match bans for violent conduct away to Preston North End, Black said: 'It will be good to get them back because the more competition we have in the side the better.'

There are no fresh injuries but Mo Konjic is on standby for Steve Staunton who has flu and might take a rest.

Black said: 'Steve has had a bit of a virus or flu thing and, to his credit, although he was struggling ten minutes into the game, he dug in and he kept on and played exceptionally well.

'Mo started on the bench because we decided to freshen it up a wee bit and Steve and Richard Shaw were in control in the centre of defence.

'We have had four reports on Cardiff and their main threat is Robert Earnshaw who has recently scored at international level as well, so he is looking very dangerous.

'They have added a fair bit of strength to the team and will be playing in a manner which suggests there is not that much pressure on them to finish in the top six, and sometimes that helps.

'The last time they were here was in the Cup but it will be a very different side this time round and there is no doubt it will definitely be a hard one.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 18, 2003
Words:439
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