Bluebird McPhail in final fight for fitness

Republic of Ireland’s Stephen McPhail will know in the next 24 hours if he has any chance of making Sunday’s Carling Cup final against Liverpool.

The Cardiff City midfielder, 32, became a major doubt for the Wembley showpiece after suffering a recurrence of the immune disease Sjogren’s Syndrome a fortnight ago. But the ex-Leeds United ace faces D-Day on his fitness tomorrow after returning to training this week.

“It’s touch and go at the moment for Stephen,” said Cardiff boss Malky Mackay.

“We will give him until Saturday to see if he is going to be involved or not. He will have a fitness test in London on Saturday and, hopefully, he will come through. He is an experienced player who has been there, seen it and done it.

“We haven’t had him recently, so it is something we have become used to coping with.

“But playing against a Premiership outfit in a final I obviously want my full squad fit and available and he’s an experienced guy at the top level.”

McPhail is in line to captain Cardiff if club skipper Mark Hudson also fails to pass a late fitness test on a calf strain. But Mackay insists McPhail’s Wembley dreams will be determined by medical specialists rather than himself.

Mackay added: “We will take their lead on it and they will make the decisions more so than us. If that means Steve has to rest, and has to have time out, then unfortunately for us and for him that’s how it is.

“At the end of the day it is his health that is more important than a game.

“We are all behind him and trying to find the best solution for him. Speaking to the consultant, we are hopeful he can make a full recovery.”

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