The pre-season tour is underway, the transfer window is open, and football is truly back. The squad that travelled to the United States of America is probably the first glimpse we’ve got of who we can expect to be in the mix for the home friendly against Nice and who may well lineup in the first game of the Championship season at Wigan.
Of course, there are some notable absentees. Madine and Tomlin were simply unable to travel to America because they are a top shagger and too tricksy respectively. Hoilett and Bacuna were on Gold Cup duty until late June so are now taking a slightly late holiday.
But within the squad that flew out there were some notable absences elsewhere and some surprise inclusions. With Warnock making noises that any players that come in will have to be balanced out by players leaving, who could Cardiff City be gearing up to say goodbye to?:
Smithies came with much promise and hype. Indeed, Huddersfield and QPR fans were so confident in his abilities, that it led to some Cardiff fans believing he was coming in to unseat Etheridge from day one. But, as the story goes, it just hasn’t worked out for him here. Some of it clearly isn’t his fault. Etheridge was inspired for much of last season, single handedly keeping us in games at different points. But, on the other gloved hand, Smithies really didn’t take his chances when they came to him. Average in the cup game against Norwich, let in an easy goal away at Gillingham. The arrival of Joe Day suggests we have a new one-two combo in nets and Smithies future lies elsewhere.
I like Omar Bogle. He scored some important goals for us the season we went up. I felt he was harshly treated when he was turfed out on loan and it looks like he’s turned up for pre-season stacked. So why do I think he will leave? He’s not really set the world alight in his three loan spells away from the club and if we were to sign him fresh now, I think people would be asking why, as a promotion chasing club, we were signing him. I’ll be happy to eat my words on this one but I imagine if we were to get a sensible bid for him, Warnock would be happy to move him on.
I completely understand why we signed Madine when we did. He was in a rich vein of form and we needed goals to bolster our promotion run. Like Smithies, it just hasn’t worked out for him. A couple of flashes aside, we haven’t seen the best of him. And it felt like his move to Sheffield United in January was the end of a 12 month fling. But it looks uncertain whether a permanent move to newly-promoted United is on the cards and he’s back with Cardiff. Being out of the picture of the American tour may, unfairly, put him out of the mind of Warnock. The sticking poing with Madine is we would want to recoup a portion of what we spent on him – and I’m not sure who would be willing to do that.
Jazz spent most of last season in and around the squad without ever really breaking through to make regular appearances. He hasn’t travelled to America with reports saying he is suffering with illness. So what next for Ashley? He’s managed 10 appearances over the past two seasons but is clearly a popular member of the squad. He can’t seem to keep fit for more than a few weeks at a time and seems to be perenially working his way back from a knock or a strain. Would any club want to take the risk on him? No doubt, he’s a talented player but his injuries restrict him from showing it. I feel sorry for him because it must be so frustrating but at the same time, maybe a change of scenery might do him some good.
Beginning his third season at the club, he’s travelled to America but I’m not sure where he fits into the starting XI. Ralls, Vaulks, Reid, Tomlin, Bacuna all seem to be in the running for the three midfield births and Damour had limited involvement last year. In fact, he seemed to be missing for most of the second half of the season. He’s not a bad player – looking back at our promotion season, he was involved in several goals showing deft touches and neat passing with other players. I just don’t know if he will be happy to sit on the bench, relying on the odd cameo, for another season. I would also use the Bogle argument here – I’m not sure how pleased we would be if we signed a player like him when we are expecting to mount a promotion challenge this season…