Cardiff City

Are Cardiff City’s four returning long-term absentees really like ‘new signings’? What are their chances of challenging for a staring spot?

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Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock says he may not need to delve into the transfer market with four first-team players still to return.

The Bluebirds have been battling on with absentees for the last few weeks and they could be boosted by their return in the near future.

The prospect of their return means Neil Warnock is reluctant to look at the transfer market just yet, especially with quality players like Kadeem Harris and Jazz Richards still to come back into the fold.

Warnock says the returning players will be ‘like four new signings’, but what does each one offer the Bluebirds? And what chance have they got of displacing players in such an in-form team?

Kadeem Harris

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Kadeem Harris has been unfortunate enough to miss the entirety of this season so far, having worked hard to impress Neil Warnock last season in his first real breakthrough.

Though, he’s now said to be just a couple of weeks away from returning and he remains a favourite of Warnock’s.

He’s unlucky in that Mendez-Laing and Hoilett have almost become irreplaceable out wide thanks to some sensational form, but Harris will become a vital option at the very least.

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Cardiff have had to call upon full-back Callum Paterson and short-term loanee Liam Feeney in the absence of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in recent weeks and it will be huge for them to be able to call on the talent of natural winger Kadeem Harris in such situations.

Harris showed his quality last season when many teams just couldn’t handle his pace and his return will be a big boost for the Bluebirds.

Rhys Healey

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Rhys Healey is an interesting one because he proved to be a good option off the bench last season, albeit when Cardiff lacked depth in the squad.

He then suffered an ACL injury which has kept him out of this season, though, Cardiff have rewarded him with a contract extension to keep him around, so there must be confidence that he can return unfazed by the serious injury.

Healey is back in non-contact training and he is completing sessions with the ball, but he’s likely to be a good few weeks off yet and he will need some development games before returning to the fold.

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When he does, it will be interesting to see whether Neil Warnock keeps him around, or whether he opts to send him on a short-term loan.

Healey now finds himself behind Kenneth Zohore, Danny Ward, Omar Bogle and possibly even Frederic Gounongbe, and that’s a long queue for a young striker.

Having said that, he did a very good job last season and if he can get back in time for the start of January when Cardiff may have an opportunity to play him in the FA Cup, then he may get his chance to impress.

Jazz Richards

Jazz Richards looked to be one of the important cogs in Neil Warnock’s promotion machine early in the season but he has now been out since the end of September. Though, he is nearing a return.

Unfortunately for him, Joe Bennett, Callum Paterson and Lee Peltier are all playing well when called upon in full-back positions, and Bruno Ecuele-Manga has even thrived in that position in recent weeks.

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It will prove difficult for Jazz to get back into the starting XI but Neil Warnock likes him and he will certainly add further strength to an already strong squad.

Richards offers something very unique in a back five, but can struggle in a flat back four when his defensive shortcomings are often a little exposed, so he may come in and out of the side according to formation changes.

Lee Camp

Camp may not be available until at least the end of December and by the time he regains full match fitness, he is unlikely to be in contention until the new year, especially with Neil Etheridge filling the gap rather well.

Neil Warnock admitted last week that Camp was signed as this season’s number one, with the intention of having Neil Etheridge learning from him, but it hasn’t panned out that way.

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Camp, who was signed injured, hasn’t made a single senior appearance this season and Etheridge has affirmed himself as the Bluebirds’ number one.

However, when Camp does finally return, he will offer an experienced hand, having impressed in the Championship for years, and Etheridge will also benefit from that behind the scenes, even if Camp doesn’t displace him.

(featured images: Jon Candy)