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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gary Ainsworth Talks about his Return to Cardiff

Former Bluebird has wrecking job in mind
Mar 21 2006 Ian Hunt, Western Mail

CARDIFF CITY will aim to squeeze into the Championship play-off zone at the weekend - though not if one on-song former Bluebird has anything to do with it.
Dave Jones' men kept their promotion dream alive last weekend with a vital 1-0 win at Plymouth that took them to within two points of sixth place.
The only top-eight side to record a win, Cardiff know another victory at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday - coupled with defeats for Preston and Wolves - would nudge them into the final play-off spot.
But QPR winger Gareth Ainsworth is determined to help put a stop to Cardiff's momentum when he makes his first official return to the club he served towards the end of the 2002-03 season.
The 32-year-old will arrive at Ninian Park in the midst of one of the best spells of his career, having taken over as this season's top scorer at Loftus Road with his seventh of the campaign in Saturday's 1-1 home draw against Brighton.
And, though the Londoners are out of the promotion race and comfortably perched in mid-table, Ainsworth has warned the Bluebirds they will be in for a difficult afternoon.
"I don't think you'll be able to call this match on the two teams' league positions - we're quite closely matched and it'll probably be a tight game," said Ainsworth, who flew up and down the City wing between March and June 2003.
"(Caretaker manager) Gary Waddock has done a great job since taking over from Ian Holloway and I think we're getting stronger all the time.
"He's changed our style - advocating us playing more football - and we're learning more and more as we go along
"We're in a comfortable position - 13th in the table - but we're determined to finish as high as we possibly can.
"I'm really looking forward to the game as it'll be the first time I've come back to Ninian Park for a league match since playing for Cardiff.
"I was injured for QPR's match at Ninian on the final day of last season, which I know involved a big struggle against relegation for Cardiff
"Now they're in with a shout of the play-offs, which is fantastic. I honestly didn't expect Cardiff to be where they are in the table.
"It's a really refreshing change. Not much has changed in the Premiership over the last 12 months, but it's a credit to the Championship that it's capable of throwing up surprises.
"It's difficult for me to say who might get the final play-off position as Cardiff and Preston are both former clubs of mine.
"But, with so few games left, I do think it's a tall order for any side currently outside the top six to get into the play-offs."
Ainsworth is not the only former Bluebird flying back into Wales at the weekend as midfielder Richard Langley (pictured) returns for the first time since ending his two-year spell at Cardiff last summer.
Whereas Langley has made 19 league starts and scored three goals in his second spell at Rangers, Blackburn-born Ainsworth has struck seven goals in 25 Championship starts this term.
"I've played 36 games in all and I'm top scorer, which I don't think is too bad for a someone who people say is injury-prone," he said.
"Hopefully, I can pop up with a goal at Cardiff, who I still regard as one of the biggest clubs I've played for.
"I loved my time at Cardiff, and wanted to stay there permanently.
"But, having initially been told I'd get a contract, Lennie (Lawrence) changed his mind two days after the play-off final and said he wanted to go for bigger players.
"On my way back to London from Cardiff, though, I got a call from QPR (ironically the side City had just beat to win promotion) saying they wanted to talk to me.
"The rest is history. I was at Ninian Park last week for Andy Legg's benefit game, and had a great reception from the fans - hopefully I'll get another one at the weekend.
"Just as I always used to give everything for Cardiff, though, they'll understand that I'll be putting in 100 per cent to try and help QPR win the game."

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