Leicester City – the big questions with the Mercury's Rob Tanner
Q Can Leicester City achieve automatic promotion this year?
A Just before Christmas I would have said City will finish in the play-offs, simply because they weren't displaying that killer touch to pinch points in tight games. But the arrival of Chris Wood has given them that little bit extra required to take an automatic spot. Their form since Boxing Day has been excellent. They will face stiff opposition from Hull, Watford and possibly Crystal Palace. I look at City's strongest starting line-up and believe they now have enough to do it.
Q Does anyone have any chance of overtaking Cardiff at the top?
A It is going to be very hard to catch Cardiff as they do not look like faltering. Every time questions have been asked of them they have responded in the style of champions. And in Craig Bellamy they have the best player in the Championship.
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Q Where do you think the biggest threat is likely to come from for that second spot?
A Hull – Steve Bruce is a very experienced manager and has won promotion to the Premier League twice before with Birmingham City, once via the play-offs and secondly as runners-up. They have had a little blip but they demonstrated last week that they can hold their nerve. City's win over Wolves on Thursday meant they had to respond at Millwall, and they took a vital win. But watch out for Watford too. They have an exciting team in the mould of their manager, Gianfranco Zola.
Q Is it true that you are so confident of City making the top two, you've booked your holidays for the week of the play-off final?
A Yes, I recently booked that week off after City convinced me that they can take one of the automatic promotion spots.
Q Is a continuing FA Cup run a good or bad distraction for City's promotion push?
A That's a tough one and I guess only time will tell. I think it could become an issue if City start facing the sort of fixture pile-up which would put massive pressure on what is an already slender squad. February and early March already look packed with games. However, suffering defeat of any kind could kill City's momentum. Winning is a habit and confidence is key.
Q If you had to choose, promotion for City or winning the FA Cup final at Wembley?
A Promotion – a day out at Wembley is great but it is just one day. In the Premier League you visit the top grounds and face the biggest clubs every week.
Q Where do you stand on Anthony Knockaert? Exciting talent, or profligate liability?
A A brilliant talent. Credit has to go to assistant manager Steve Walsh and City's scouting system in spotting a player who was under the radar, even in his own country. He has shown incredible skills and gets the fans going. He has had his moments where he hasn't tracked back, or has tried to do too much and City have been vulnerable on the break. However, he has shown signs he is learning. In fact, his performance against Wolves was very mature. He did both parts of the job impressively.
Q Which City player has impressed you the most this season?
A Knockaert and Wood have caught the eye and stolen a lot of the headlines, but City have two key men – Wes Morgan and David Nugent. Morgan has been the best defender in the Championship. Only Danny Shittu at Millwall has come close. He leads by example and has been commanding at the heart of the defence, helping to keep 14 clean sheets. Nugent has also been outstanding. It isn't just his goals, but his work-rate and his link play with his team-mates. He is a very intelligent player and would certainly not look out of place in the Premier League.
Q Is Chris Wood really the 'missing piece of the jigsaw' for Nigel Pearson?
A He certainly has made a difference since he came into the side. His partnership with Nugent has been excellent from the off and he has scored a few goals that other City strikers may not have been able to score, by being strong enough to knock defenders out of the way and get the rebounds. He just seems to have the knack of being in the right place at the right time.
Q Where, if anywhere, are City vulnerable in the second half of the season. For instance, what would happen if Wes Morgan was injured?
A A spate of injuries would be my big concern. City have good enough cover everywhere else but a couple of injuries to key men and they may be struggling. With Zak Whitbread and Sean St Ledger still struggling with injuries, City could have been in trouble but the emergence of Michael Keane has been vital. He really does look an impressive young player.