Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay hits back at the Evening Post's Leighton James over Swansea City claim
MALKY Mackay has responded to Leighton James's Evening Post column by insisting the former Swansea City star is biased.
James wrote this week that only a handful of Cardiff City players would even threaten to win a place in Michael Laudrup's in Swansea side.
And ex-Wales winger James wasn't convinced that any member of Cardiff's team would make a combined South Wales XI — but Mackay dismissed that claim.
"Well he's just a tad biased isn't he? Just a tad," smiled the Cardiff boss.
"It has come from someone who is completely biased. It is background noise. I am focused on my task at hand and I won't let anyone interfere with that.
"We're playing a team who are in their third season in the Premier League.
"Put the derby angle to one side, we're playing a mid-table side which brings its own challenges and that's what we're facing.
"Throw into the mix it's our biggest local rival and the first derby at the top level and it's absolutely going to be a tough challenge going into the game."
Mackay was keen not to repeat the perceived mistakes of his predecessor when it came to derby day.
Dave Jones famously suggested Swansea's clash with Cardiff should be treated like any other game and incurred the wrath of his side's supporters after struggling against the neighbours.
As he prepares for his first taste of the derby, Mackay made sure he didn't fall into the same trap.
"It's not just another game and I would be lying if I said that," he added.
"It's only three points and it's another Premier League team coming to the stadium, but there is a lot of importance attached to the game as it's the first time we have played each other at the top level in the Premier League.
"It's very special for everyone in South Wales.
"For ourselves and Swansea it has absolutely got a little bite to it and that's something that helps people.
"I know the passion of our fans and what the atmosphere in our stadium is like, but I don't think it is going to touch the sides of what we will feel on Sunday.
"It will be an incredible atmosphere when the players walk out. I think it is something all our fans have looked forward to since we were promoted and it does hold that extra special edge."
Though Mackay and Michael Laudrup are set to experience this game for the first time, both have played in high-profile derbies before.
The Cardiff manager has scored for Celtic in an Old Firm match and been sent off in another of those clashes, while Laudrup has played for both sides in the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Barcelona among other derby fixtures.
"As long as he has not borrowed players from El Clasico we will be okay," said Mackay.
"We have both been involved in really intense derbies and I have watched some South Welsh derbies on television.
"You have to be cool, you have to be calm, you have to be professional and make sure you are doing the best for your team.
"Keeping 11 men on the pitch is something you have to be aware of in that situation but I think it is an atmosphere players embrace.
"This is something I will be able to look back on and say I was very proud to be manager of Cardiff City in the first South Wales derby in the Premier League
"When it kicks off it is when I enjoy it most."
DON'T miss tomorrow's live blog featuring tweets, pictures and updates, plus video from the bubble bus and a live webchat with Swans legend Leighton James at full-time.