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The transfer problem staring Cardiff City right in the face and why it must be fixed as a matter or urgency

Cardiff City’s transfer summer window was a curious one, it must be said.

They bulked up in their spine, adding a centre-back, a central midfielder and a striker, but neglected their flanks.

Ryan Giles’ loan signing from Wolves was a great coup for the club, though, and he looks a real find on that left wing. It is no coincidence that his absence over the last week has coincided with a miserable brace of defeats.

It only highlights just how weak Cardiff are in those wide areas, but particularly on the left.

On the right there is Tom Sang and Perry Ng, neither of whom have enjoyed rip-roaring starts to the season but will no doubt come good, while Rubin Colwill and Mark Harris are being given a run in the wing berth.

On the left, the situation is a little more imbalanced. But we knew that would be the case after the transfer window shut.

Junior Hoilett, Joe Bennett, Josh Murphy and Sheyi Ojo played prominent roles over on that flank last season, all of whom are experienced at this level and have, to varying degrees, enjoyed success.

It is a huge relief that Giles has performed so well, in fact, because while he showed glimpses at Coventry and Rotherham, his two former loan clubs, he hardly lit up the division.

But when it comes to the back-up options on the wing, they look very thin on the ground.

However, the wing-back role in particular is the biggest area of concern.

There is little doubt among those at the club that Joel Bagan will become a very good footballer for Cardiff City in the years to come, but he has started this campaign a little shakily.

He was handed the No.3 shirt after Bennett’s departure, just reward for his development over the last two years or so, however he has just looked a little nervy at times. It is understandable and can be expected from a boy who is still just 19 years old.

He has a wonderful left foot, though, and can strike a lovely cross. He rarely makes the wrong decision, too, which is encouraging considering he is still so young.

But entrusting Bagan with such a prominent role, given his inexperience, is a big call and one every hopes the club have got right. Time will tell on that one, but at the moment he could do with some help.

READ MORE: The key issues now facing Mick McCarthy after damaging week

Ciaron Brown, unfortunately, is just not the answer. Left centre-back, yes, left-back in a back four, at a push, left wing-back, no.

Despite playing as a wing-back, Brown’s average position against Bournemouth at the weekend was the deepest of any of the 10 outfield players. He is a defensive-minded defender, which is fine, of course, but he is not a wing-back.

Cardiff cannot drop Giles into that position, either, because he is needed further up the pitch. He is one of very few in this squad with real quality at the top end of the pitch and his attacking capabilities are too good to waste being deployed in a more defensive role.

It is curious Cardiff didn’t make a serious play for another left wing-back in the summer. They spoke with Adam Reach, but a deal could not be done and he ended up at West Brom, while Callum Elder of Hull City was believed to be on the radar.

It is, of course, admirable that the club are placing their faith in youth and Bagan is someone for whom the club have high hopes. Everyone is hoping his potential is realised.

But there is no shame in admitting that help is needed, too.

Cardiff are already struggling to get their attack going this season and if Bagan should fall victim to injury or suspension, swapping Brown in on that flank would not be a suitable solution.

Another added dimension to this all is that Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic are reportedly monitoring Brown’s situation, with the Northern Ireland international’s contract running out next summer. He might be the subject of yet more transfer interest in January, with Middlesbrough having had a bid knocked back in the summer.

The gold standard free agent currently available is Robbie Brady, everyone knows that. Mick McCarthy will know him from his Republic of Ireland connection and the manager likes to bring in players he knows – see Irish duo James Collins and Mark McGuinness and former Ipswich Town loanee Jonny Williams.

Brady is sought after, though. He will have admirers in the top flight and abroad, no doubt. His wage demands are likely to be high, but Josh Murphy’s deadline-day departure was an unforeseen cutting of the wage bill which might just offset the costs and make a deal more viable.

Would you like to see Cardiff sign Robbie Brady? Have your say in the comments below

He is the sort of player who could really bolster that left-hand side and bring more set-piece quality to complement what is already in situ and the giants Cardiff tend to lump in the box.

In the summer, chairman Mehmet Dalman said “it’s no secret – we need to bring more quality into the team.” That much was true, but Giles is arguably the only summer arrival who betters the starting XI. One suspects McGuinness will do that in years to come, though.

Left wing-back was an area of concern throughout the window, hence the Reach and Elder links, but a decision was made somewhere along the line that there was enough already there. Quite why they added another central midfielder instead is still a bone of contention for many.

It is now coming to a head and presenting Cardiff with a bit of an issue early on in the season. If it cannot be addressed by the free signing of Brady – or another suitable addition – then it must be addressed in January.

McCarthy did, however, recently pour cold water over potentially dipping into the free agents market, which left some supporters frustrated.

To be fair to McCarthy, he is doing all this on barely even a shoestring at the minute. He has brought in five players, all on frees or loans, with Williams and Wintle both having left, the former being released and the latter having been loaned out to Blackpool.

No fewer than 13 players have departed since McCarthy entered the building, if we include the returns of Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo and the curious Marley Watkins exit.

That is quite the deficit and the manager and the club must be applauded for chucking their faith behind the talented youngsters coming through.

At the very least, this season will afford the budding young stars, such as Bagan and Brown, an opportunity to better themselves and become more accomplished Championship players for the years ahead.

It might mean that Cardiff don’t have enough quality or experience to challenge at the very top, then again they might surprise us and squirm their way into the top six somehow.

Lest we forget, it has hardly been a catastrophic start to the season. Cardiff are sitting in 10th and have barely got out of second gear with their best player, Kieffer Moore, having not enjoyed any rhythm or form just yet.

But there are certainly areas which are beginning to show up as cause for urgent address and competition on that left side is one of them.

Brady would be the lift this Cardiff side need, and another who would actually add quality to the starting XI, but it seems highly unlikely he will end up in the Welsh capital.

Nevertheless, Cardiff’s next transfer priority, whether that is in the free agents market or on January 1, is already becoming clear.

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