Mackay plays down Crystal Palace speculation and praises Caulker after Aston Villa defeat

The 41-year-old saw his side concede two late goals at Villa Park but dismissed speculation linking him with move away and felt the England hopeful produced a strong performance
Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay played down speculation linking him with a move to Crystal Palace and preferred to praise the display of Steven Caulker after his side's 2-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.

The Scot was asked about the position after Crystal Palace announced the appointment of Iain Moody, who was Cardiff's former head of recruitment before being suspended by the club on October 9, as their new sporting director.

7/1 Cardiff are 7/1 with BetVictor to register a top 10 finish this term
But Mackay remained coy on the links and insisted he was proud to be club's manager, instead shifting attention to England-hopeful Caulker, who he feels will force his way into the national squad on current form.

"I'm the Cardiff City manager and I said that yesterday," he said at his press conference. "I’ve got a great group of players and staff. I’m the manager of Cardiff City and I’m proud to be that.

"I thought our back five - our two centre-back especially - were immense today, they were playing against a real handful in the two players they were up against. But I thought they were both immense.

"He's [Caulker] a 21-year-old and he’s captaining a team in the Premier League. If he keeps playing like that, there will be plenty of England caps coming for him."

Paul Lambert, meanwhile, saw Leandro Bacuna's free-kick from distance open the scoring to give his side their first goal in over seven and a half hours of football and says he was always confident his side could score.

"I was never too down about it because I knew, against Everton, we created chances and I knew, against West Ham, we created chances," he admitted. "I knew we would create, it’s just [to] keep persevering and keep doing what we’re doing.

"I thought they were excellent. When you look at the side we put out, we have a lot of injuries at the minute – we had half a team out. I thought we were worthy winners.

"I thought his [Bacuna's] free kick against Manchester City was world class but I thought that one surpassed it. It was a terrific free kick. But Leo, as I’ve said all the time, can do it."