Home Sports Nigel Pearson delivers a positive and a negative over Bristol City’s midfield...

Nigel Pearson delivers a positive and a negative over Bristol City’s midfield for Cardiff test

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Nigel Pearson admits Saturday’s Severnside Derby will come too soon for Matty James but Joe Williams is set to be involved in a Bristol City squad for the first time in two months.

James was a surprising absentee from the teamsheet against Fulham last weekend with Pearson confirming the 30-year-old had suffered a recurrence of the foot problem that kept him out of action in November last year.

Although James himself is keen to return to the starting XI to face Cardiff City, Pearson is remaining cautious as to when to reintroduce the midfielder into first-team action due to the risks of exacerbating the issue.

James is such an integral figure for City, not only just in how he organises matters on the field but also in his presence and conduct in the dressing room, Pearson needs him as available as possible from now until May.

“He wants to be, but he probably won’t be,” was Pearson’s response when asked about James’ availability for the weekend.

“He has a bit of a problem with the bottom of his foot which is taking a while to heal in the way that he needs it to have longevity. He’s very keen to get back but we’re having to hold him back a bit.

“Not just for his own good, but our own good as well because we don’t want to lose him for a sustained period of time.”

That is also eased by the availability of Williams after a two-month absence due to a hamstring injury, his second of the season, suffered against Stoke City on November 24.

The story of Williams’ time at City has been a cycle of injury-recovery-play-injury, a chain that both the player and Pearson are determined to end.

As a result it would be some surprise to see the 25-year-old take to the field from kick-off at Ashton Gate but Pearson is confident he can at least include him among the substitutes.

“I think the fact Joe comes back into the equation in some format is beneficial for us because that takes a bit of heat off Matty,” Pearson added. “There’s a really good chance he’ll be included for the weekend so we may see him on the bench.”

Williams’ return further boosts Pearson’s options in central midfield with Tyreeq Bakinson poised to join Ipswich Town on loan for the rest of the season.

City are unquestionably a better team with Williams in it, as the former Everton academy graduate provides defensive security, snap in the tackle and an ability to drive forward from deep.

City remain without right-back George Tanner who continues to recover from his own hamstring problem and won’t be back until the end of February, at the earliest.

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