Kieffer Moore will break. it feels inevitable. His workload is unsustainable and it’s already happened once before.
The last time Cardiff faced Swansea, Moore tore his hamstring and missed a month. In his absence, Cardiff lost consecutive games against Norwich, Brentford, Wycombe and Nottingham Forest, a run that effectively cost Neil Harris his job. His return to the starting line-up was the final game of Harris’ tenure.
The problem is there is no Plan B. When you have a player as influential and effective as Moore, all other options become unpalatable. Mick McCarthy said post-Stoke that “it would be nice if we had a replacement for Kieffer,” suggesting that the alternatives are rather underwhelming. He’s right, of course, but that is partly because he saw fit to loan out Robert Glatzel without first finding a suitable replacement.
McCarthy said this after a game where Moore looked shattered, but still played the full 90 minutes. Unless Cardiff are cruising, he always does. Despite his spell on the sidelines, only Curtis Nelson and Sean Morrison have played more.
Moore can often be found blowing out of his arse, which is to be expected with all the hard running he gets through, but he always keeps on trucking. He was presented with two late chance to win the game on Tuesday, but his tired efforts were the attempts of a player running on fumes and brought to mind Fraizer Campbell, the last Cardiff striker to fully embrace this lonely task.
What Moore could do with is a few weeks off and while others will kick back and relax, he has to somehow squeeze in three games in six days on international duty. Moore is as pivotal for his country as he is for his club and with the European Championships fast approaching, and a new manager to impress, he can ill afford to miss it. At this rate though, he is running the risk of an injury that may cost him the opportunity of a lifetime.
Glatzel could do a passable impression of Moore, even though it was not playing to his strengths, but were Moore to be sidelined, there is no like for like replacement.
Rubin Colwill has replaced Moore briefly, but is nowhere near ready for that burden. Max Watters and Mark Harris are different kind of strikers, who play with pace and off the shoulder. The reality is that replacing Moore would likely necessitate a complete change of shape and possibly pairing Watters and Harris.
You would think that the threat of this scenario would see Moore’s playing time managed better, but while Cardiff harbour any hopes of breaking in to the top six, he just has to keep on trucking. This is a situation that will need to be addressed in the summer, but Kieffer Moore’s do not grow on trees. Identifying and sourcing a suitable alternative will not be an easy task and they will have to do far better than the mooted Jordan Rhodes.
Moore and the rest of Cardiff’s regulars now rarely train, they just play, recover and repeat. Players have been let down by the Football League, who despite an abridged summer break and late start, have still crammed in the same number of games in order to still finish by the start of May. Not only does it make for a gruelling campaign, but it may in time contribute towards curtailing careers.
Of course, I’m writing this because Moore has been a revelation this season and it is testament to the club that they manged to bring in a player that has significantly improved the side. He has quickly become Cardiff’s key asset and most important player. All we can do now is envelope him in bubble wrap between games and hope he can see out the season because let’s be honest, if he hobbles off, so does Cardiff’s promotion prospects.