Much has been made of Cardiff City’s creativity, or lack thereof, during this pre-season campaign.
The loss of Harry Wilson, Sheyi Ojo, Junior Hoilett and Jonny Williams has left a gaping hole in that area of the pitch, of that there is no doubt.
Ryan Giles has come in and looks a quality addition, while Rubin Colwill’s emergence is cause for optimism, too. Whether Lee Tomlin is able to stave off injury for the majority of the season is also a big factor.
So, too, of course, is keeping hold of goal machine Kieffer Moore.
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But while it is understandable that the top end of the pitch is something of an unknown, at the other end things seem very much in hand.
Led by captain Sean Morrison, Mick McCarthy has an uncompromising and experienced trio of defenders, with Aden Flint and Curtis Nelson also making up what will likely be Cardiff’s first-choice back three.
But, nipping at their heels, will be new signing Mark McGuinness.
McGuinness breaks the mould somewhat in this Cardiff squad. He looks the most comfortable on the ball, wants to dribble more from the back and has a fantastic passing range.
The 20-year-old has been one of the standouts in pre-season and while he might not start as first choice, you can rest assured that when he is afforded an opportunity this term he will snatch it with both hands.
And skipper Morrison has been duly impressed with the former Arsenal centre back, who he has backed to be a big success during his stay in the Welsh capital.
“He’s been brilliant to be honest,” Morrison said of McGuinness.
“He’s got a willingness to learn and comes across a lot older [than he is]. He’s got a firm head on his shoulders and wants to learn from the other lads playing in his position, he is always picking our brains, asking questions in training.
“He has been great and done really well in the games. He’s a confident lad and wants to play out from the back, but also has the defensive qualities you look for in a Championship centre-half.
“He is a great addition to the squad and I think he will be fantastic for us this season.”
While fans can argue until their blue in the face about the lack of creativity, if Cardiff are to be successful this season, it will be because it has been built on solid foundations.
A rock-solid defence in front of a quality goalkeeper – be that Alex Smithies or Dillon Phillips – with solid wing-back options.
One of the big success stories of McCarthy’s reign so far has been the return and success of Aden Flint.
The gnarled centre back was exiled from the starting lineup under Neil Harris before being sent out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday at the start of last season.
He then endured a nightmare hamstring injury which required surgery and the outlook appeared to be fairly bleak.
A change of manager brought a change of fortunes for the 32-year-old, though, and McCarthy quickly brought him back into the fold.
His early performances were solid before, of course, that derby-winning goal against Swansea City back in March, which brought him almost instant cult hero status.
As well as his performances on the pitch last term, his big and effervescent personality is also an extremely important bonus in a very inexperienced squad and Morrison, his centre-back partner, is delighted that Flint has had the turnaround he has enjoyed over the last six months.
“He’s a grumpy man! A very grumpy human being,” Morrison said of Flint.
“He’s a fantastic guy. Having him in the changing room, he is brilliant and a great character to have. I’ve known Flinty for a long time, since his days at Swindon.
“He’s a brilliant player and I’m delighted for him as well. It’s difficult sometimes when you come into a club and things don’t work out for you for the first year or two and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
“Then for him to come back from a long hamstring injury and a loan to score the winner in the derby and get the credit he deserves, because he was fantastic last year. He’s a brilliant player to have in the squad.
“He’s always up for a laugh, always joking and moaning at people – in a good way!
“Sometimes it’s not a nice place to be in when things aren’t going well and I’m absolutely delighted for him and got the praise he deserved.”