NEIL WARNOCK played down the any notion of bad blood between promotion-chasing Cardiff and Derby today after their Championship game was postponed in controversial circumstances last month.
The two clubs will meet at Pride Park tonight, 37 days after the original fixture was postponed when Derby said heavy snow meant the area surrounding the stadium was in an “unsafe condition.”
Cardiff manager Warnock called the decision a “disgrace” and said Derby did not want to play the game because of an injury crisis.
Extra spice was then added to the fixture when Cardiff captain Sean Morrison was shown using offensive language to taunt Derby players in a social media video, which he later apologised for.
Warnock took another dig at Derby after Saturday’s home win over Nottingham Forest put the Bluebirds back in the second automatic promotion spot, replying: “Weather permitting” when asked if he was looking forward to tonight’s game.
But Warnock was in more diplomatic mood at his pre-match press conference today, saying: “I’m definitely not going to give you [reporters] any extra lines that you’re looking for.
“But there’s no bad blood — life’s too short.
“The players get on quite well with each other, even if they did have that Twitter thing, but what we’re both fighting for there’s always going to be an edge.
“There will be plenty of handshakes at the end of the game.”
Cardiff are one point above third-placed Fulham with a game in hand.
Warnock’s side finish at Hull and at home to Reading, while Fulham entertain relegated Sunderland and visit Birmingham on the last day.
“My tips for promotion at the start of the season were Middlesbrough and Derby, so full credit to Wolves [the champions) and Fulham,” Warnock said.
“We’ve done well to be in that group and that’s what makes me even prouder.
“If we fall short we’ll just have to crack on and have a go at the play-offs. We’d all have accepted that at the start of the season.”
Derby have slipped outside the play-off places after three successive defeats, but drawing their game in hand will take them above sixth-placed Millwall on goal difference.
Manager Gary Rowett said Derby “need to produce” with three games left, while he was keener to talk about the fallout of last month’s postponement than Warnock.
“Neil has created a bit of needle, hasn’t he?” said Rowett. “I don’t think anyone else has tried to stoke it up.
“That’s fine. I have no problem with that. That’s his management style. He has always been quite abrasive in that sense.
“But I still think he is a really good guy and he has done a fantastic job.”
The other game tonight sees relegation-threatened Barnsley head to Nottingham Forest.
Barnsley need to win to climb above Bolton and out of the bottom three.
“My belief is that we have to win the next game, which is the game we have on others,” said Barnsley boss Jose Morais.
“Winning this game would mean we are in a good position.”
Forest are safe in 17th place with boss Aitor Karanka already preparing for next season.
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