Who knows what sort of shape Cardiff will be in come January and having spent a fair whack in the summer, it remains to be seen if Cardiff will have any more spending money. If they are given the green light to send out an SOS, these players probably represent the pick of the attainable players on the market.
The grass grow’s under nobody’s feet at Watford, where players and managers are turned over at a rapid pace. Nathaniel Chalobah, signed for in excess of £5m from Chelsea, endured a serious knee injury and found that the landscape had changed by the time he had returned. He is now struggling for game time and at 24, really needs to be playing regularly.
A classy, deep-lying midfielder, he remains a real prospect and his brother Trevoh impressed in scoring against Cardiff earlier in the season for Huddersfield. Nathaniel has played for Napoli and the England national side (Gareth Southgate, who managed him at international youth level, is a big fan). With just 166 minutes to his name thus far this season, he may well be made available to loan in January.
Constantly on the move and chewing gum all the while, Shane Long, who has in the past been the scourge of Cardiff, is also struggling for minutes. Now 32, although he looks no older than he did when he broke through at Reading, has only 103 minutes under his belt for a struggling Southampton side.
Long is one of those players that seems to just keep on trucking. Whether he’s scoring or not, he just keeps working, keeps sniffing and invariably gets his reward. Cardiff could certainly do with a bit more consistency and threat up top. His contract also expires in the summer, so while his wages may be hefty, although you would imagine he will have to take a hit there now he’s the wrong side of thirty, any fee would surely be pretty reasonable.
Championship Viagra. Having plundered 24 goals for West Brom last year, one better than his previous best tally at this level for Newcastle, the Baggies couldn’t afford to keep him, so he returned to Newcastle, never to be heard of since. He has featured in only five minutes for Steve Bruce, who was keen to keep hold of him, but Gayle, who can play anywhere across a front three, will be itching to head back out again.
If that happens, everyone in the Championship will want Gayle, who recently turned 30, and it would be the sort of signing that could win the promotion race. Warnock had him briefly at Crystal Palace and, like Bobby Reid, didn’t really know what to do with him, but if Cardiff are to be bold, he will surely be a consideration.
Lansbury is the kind of creative central midfielder Cardiff are crying out for. Lost in the shuffle at Aston Villa, who are rather partial to a supermarket sweep, he has nearly double Gayle’s minutes, but that is nothing at all to brag about. The former Arsenal prospect may be out of fashion, but his undoubted talent remains.
Lansbury got a rare start in the cup for a 6-1 hammering of Crewe and gave a timely reminder of his prowess in and around the opposition box. He would certainly represent an upgrade on Cardiff’s options in that role and will certainly be attainable when the window opens.
Like Lansbury, Davis featured for Villa at Crewe and scored. He is exactly the type of striker that tends to thrive at Cardiff; big, strong and mobile. The 21-year-old former Biggleswade Town prospect is 6ft 3” and built for battle. His goalscoring record may not be anything to write home about, but he always makes an impression.
Villa often throw Davis on late in games to create havoc and bully defences. His hold up play is good and he is very highly regarded at the club. What he needs and won’t get at this stage of his career, especially in the Premier League, is a regular run of games and they may be receptive to an approach from the Championship.
Remember Scott Sinclair? With a list of clubs as long as your leg, he has been holed up in Scotland for the last few years, where he has averaged roughly a goal every other game from the Celtic wing. Since Neil Lennon took charge, Sinclair has fallen out of favour and the 30-year-old fancies a return south.
As Cardiff’s wide men flatter to deceive, would Sinclair represent an upgrade on the left? Maybe his Swansea links would be an issue, for him or others, but personally, that wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.
Bearing in mind that Burnley paid £15m to sign him the summer before last, Ben Gibson can’t get anywhere near their first team. A very highly-regarded centre back at Middlesbrough, he has managed about an hour of league football since joining and it’s all rather mystifying.
Burnley are not big on rotating and stick to a very small group of tried and trusted players. Gibson is clearly not one of them, like former Derby striker Matej Vydra, and that’s a real waste. The 26-year-old was in and around the England squad a couple of years back, now he is a forgotten man and probably itching to get out.