Final countdown to Cardiff

Sam Allardyce will lead his team into the final week of pre-season on a high ahead of Cardiff City's arrival for the big kick-off on Sunday.

The manager was pleased to see the team record a 2-0 win on Saturday against Real Zaragoza, with Matt Taylor and Freddie Sears on target. There was yet another clean sheet at the back and encouraging signs throughout the side, with new skipper Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Scott Parker especially looking an effective trio in the centre.

Allardyce knows the only thing that matters is what happens from next Sunday onwards and is looking forward to a bumper Boleyn Ground crowd urging the team on from the stands.

"Our efforts have all been to get us to this point," he said. "I know we will not be the finished article yet but the aim is to make sure we are ready to go next weekend. We will then look to improve with every passing week.

"While we are on a good unbeaten run and I am happy with four successive clean sheets, pre-season is not about results. The only way to judge if it has been a good summer will be after we have completed our first ten league games."

The manager described the "special feeling" ahead of the start of a new season and he has plenty of reason for optimism.

His squad will be boosted by Abdoulaye Faye returning to full training this week after hamstring trouble, while Jack Collison should also be involved after a minor knock last week.

Julien Faubert was substituted on Saturday as a precaution after feeling tightness in his hamstring. Junior Stanislas is also back after a groin problem but Jordan Brown is out for a month with an ankle injury.

The development squad will have two friendlies this week away to Sutton United and Grays Athletic on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, and the manager could look again at his trialists Mikael Forssell and Jlloyd Samuel, who impressed at the weekend.

He will also continue to run the rule over new transfer targets, with joint-Chairman David Gold pledging that at least a striker will arrive to join Nolan, Taylor, Faye and Joey O'Brien.

He said: "I can say for certain that we will at least bring in another striker. We will not leave a stone unturned to get the players Sam wants, as was the case with those we have brought in already."