It would appear that only Dylan Phillips, Curtis Nelson, Joel Bagan, Perry Ng, Leandro Bacuna, Rubin Colwill, Kieffer Moore, Tom Sang, Max Watters and Gavin Whyte have Cardiff contracts beyond next summer. That leaves 17 first team players with an uncertain future at the club and a situation that, ideally, will need to be resolved over the summer.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to open that box and play Deal or No Deal.
First up are those with contracts expiring in the next few weeks. So, Ciaron Brown, Jonny Williams, Mark Harris, Junior Hoilett, Joe Day, Joe Bennett and Sol Bamba. Brown and Harris are regarded as promising youngsters, despite now being 23 and 22 respectively, and both have impressed when afforded the opportunity this season. If McCarthy is intending to continue with three centre backs, then he can ill afford to lose any, while Harris is one of the few high intensity players in the squad.
McCarthy is a big Joniesta fan and has signed him several times, but that has not translated into appearances. Hoilett started McCarthy’s first game and has not featured since. He has become a leper and looks certain to depart, as does Day, who is third choice and currently on loan at Bristol Rovers. Bamba and Bennett have both experienced very different forms of bad luck recently and you like to think that they will be looked after.
Next summer, its everyone else’s turn, so *inhales* Alex Smithies, Sean Morrison, Aden Flint, Will Vaulks, Joe Ralls, Josh Murphy, Marlon Pack, Isaac Vassell, Lee Tomlin and Robert Glatzel.
Right, starting at the back and working forward… Smithies is a very good Championship goalkeeper. Having just turned 31, he’s not a bad age for that particular role and chances are that Cardiff may not find better, but he is believed to be the club’s highest earner and cannot expect to secure those terms again. Morrison, though, is surely a no brainer. Cardiff tend to fall apart without him, so what are they waiting for?
Flint will be 33 next summer and despite an impressive second half to the season, you would be surprised if he remained. Vaulks, Ralls and Pack form a midfield that are often maligned for being rather limited as a unit, but individually, they are all good players. Ralls will soon be entitled to a testimonial and you don’t just throw away that sort of service, while Vaulks is a Welsh international and Pack is one of few that is comfortable with the ball at his feet. Maybe all three shouldn’t remain, but who should go?
Josh Murphy and Robert Glatzel were both expensive acquisitions and are undoubtedly talented, but for whatever reason, it has not quite worked out at Cardiff. Do you continue to wait for them to come good or cash in? Surely allowing £15m worth of investment to walk away next summer is not an option. Similarly, we continue to hope that Tomlin and Vassell will find fitness, but who knows if that will ever happen.
Cardiff are in a vulnerable position, at a time when their focus needs to be on further reinforcing the squad. In the current financial climate, maybe the future is for lots of players to get released and a rich, lucrative free agent pool to form, but that in some respects hands the power to the players. You also wonder how many of the above Cardiff can actually afford to keep.
We will all have to wait and see what the banker offers.