After securing his contract extension, Steve Morison will have one eye on next season.
Not that he’ll allow his team to take their collective foot off the gas just yet.
Anyone who has been paying attention to Morison’s brief managerial career will know he’s a man who doesn’t do anything in half-measures.
A strong end to the campaign to bookend a disastrous Cardiff start under predecessor Mick McCarthy will be the order of the day, but laying the groundwork for next season seems of inescapable importance.
Morison clearly has his own ideas ahead of the next term, and has already started mapping out his transfer strategy for the summer, as well as the small matter of the 10 players out of contract.
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Morison’s January dealings, which has undoubtedly aided Cardiff’s upturn in form, will have certainly inflated the levels of confidence in his ability to get things right.
The disappointment that arrived on the back of Kieffer Moore’s departure has arguably been eased to an extent by the success of Jordan Hugill and Uche Ikpeazu, who are two of five strikers now in the building.
And yet, the task of replacing Moore will undoubtedly rear its head again this summer, with uncertainty hanging over each and every one of Cardiff’s current striking options.
Replacing Kieffer is no easy feat, given the fact he hit 20 goals during his first season as a Bluebird.
So what of the current options?
Isaac Vassell, barring a monumental change of heart, is almost certain to be shipped out the door when his contract comes to an end.
Morison clearly isn’t too convinced that Max Watters is ready for regular game-time at this level, meaning another loan spell could feasibly be on the cards.
That’s two who don’t seem likely to be filling Kieffer’s boots any time soon.
James Collins? He just hasn’t got going in the capital since his arrival and has fallen down the pecking order. Should the right offer come in, one suspects it would at least be considered.
Finally, there are the two loanees.
Hugill is probably someone Morison would like to bring back next term, such is his admiration for the 29-year-old who clearly boasts a solid pedigree at this level.
But the decision may well be taken out of his hands.
Hugill’s club Norwich City are seemingly destined to be playing their football in the same division next season, and there’s likely to be plenty of upheaval at Carrow Road as a result.
Hugill being a part of the blueprint for the Canaries next season cannot be ruled out, while wages too may yet be a consideration for the Bluebirds should they wish to sign Hugill full time.
Money was initially a sticking point in landing Middlesbrough forward Ikpeazu before a loan deal for him was also struck in January.
The 27-year-old has become something of cult idol in these parts already, such has been his success in the role of impact sub, and his well-publicised fondness for an Ayatollah, of course.
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Ikpeazu was on the radar during the McCarthy days, but has he done enough to earn a long-term stay? The jury is probably still out on that one.
Besides, the finances involved could one again prove a stumbling block.
It means that there’s every chance that each of Cardiff’s five centre-forwards could feasibly head out the door this summer, although that is admittedly a worst-case scenario.
Replacing a striker of Moore’s quality was always going to be difficult, his quality in front of goal placing him among the very best in the division in terms of ability.
The chances of finding another player of his ilk this summer are slim, let alone at the £2m snip Cardiff signed Kieffer for, given that City will probably be operating on something of a shoestring budget.
Nevertheless, a striker has to be at the top of the list of priorities, preferably one who can complement the talented homegrown attacking options of Mark Harris, Rubin Colwill and Isaak Davies.
Sam Surridge was a name bounced around behind the scenes on deadline day before he completed a move to Nottingham Forest, while sources in the north-west claim Preston’s Sean Maguire was another player the Bluebirds looked at in the January window.
Players of that ilk may well be on the agenda again, along with some of the Premier League’s brightest youngsters.
Leeds United’s Sam Greenwood and Manchester City’s Liam Delap are other names who have been linked in the past, and neither of them have really clocked up enough Premier League minutes to render them prohibitive to a Championship loan.
The success of Cody Drameh and Tommy Doyle have also surely sweetened relations between Cardiff and those two Premier League clubs, although those sort of players are likely to attract plenty of interest from all over the Championship.
Of course, a new manager at Elland Road may well have an impact on the decision-making process, while Man City will likely still need an impressive pitch if they were to allow Delap to go anywhere, particularly given that Pep Guardiola often places greater value in keeping his most talented youngsters in and around the first team.
But Morison knows he needs to significantly boost his forward options in a meaningful way and that means hurdles have to be overcome.
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