A central midfielder is central to Neil Warnock’s plans, so we’ve identified three options worth a ponder;
Scott Johnson – James McCarthy
James McCarthy made his name as an all-action midfielder, but there has been very little action at all recently. Before making a brief cameo in Everton’s thumping win over Manchester United at the tail end of last season, McCarthy had not played in 18 months after a horrible double leg break.
The 28-year-old Ireland international, was a £13m signing for Everton in 2013, when Roberto Martinez made a reunion with the Wigan prospect his first priority when he took charge at Goodison Park. He went on to establish himself as an imposing presence, but his stock has since plummeted due to a prolonged absence.
Now fully fit and in pre-season training, McCarthy will be keen to make up for lost time. That may require a loan spell and he would be tailor made for a Warnock side. His contract is also up next summer, so there may even be scope to make a temporary arrangement permanent further down the line. Whether or not he can regain his pre-injury form remains to be seen, but if he can, a comeback is on the cards.
Paul Gronow – Ja Erhun Oztumer
This name would likely be unfamiliar to most Cardiff City supporters, given Oztumer has not yet troubled the Premier League or top of the Championship table. That shouldn’t give Bluebirds much concern though, given Neil Etheridge and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing weren’t exactly household names. They’ve since gone on to become first team regulars and both succeeded in the Premier League.
Oztumer has primarily enjoyed his career highs whilst playing in League One, being named in the Leage One Team of the Season for two seasons in a row. An attacking midfielder who can both make and score goals, he could well suplement an already well-stocked central midfield area.
Having made the move for the 2018/19 season to Bolton Wanderers, he found himself a victim of the pantomime-like events transpiring off the pitch. Whilst last season was a campaign to forget for all Wanderers playing staff, it can reasonably be seen to be a blip in an otherwise promising career.
He has much to prove at Championship level (as do many others) and wouldn’t command a very high fee, currently valued at around £500,000. A gamble maybe, but not a very expensive one certainly.
Scott Salter – Herbie Kane
Cardiff has a decent relationship with Liverpool following the loan of Marko Grujic during our last Championship season. Neil Warnock looked to take advantage of that relationship in the Premier League by trying to bring Grujic back to South Wales and the pursuit of Nathaniel Clyne in January.
Neither came off, but Cardiff could take advantage of that relationship once more by taking Herbie Kane on loan for the season.
An unknown name for many I’m sure, the Liverpool academy graduate has been likened to Steven Gerrard. Kane impressed on loan at Doncaster in League One last year, grabbing four goals and six assists last year. A step up to the Championship could suit Kane and Liverpool, while Cardiff could get a talented central midfield for a low cost, allowing investment in other areas.