Neil Warnock wants Liverpool midfield player Marko Grujic to link up with Cardiff City before their home pre-season friendly against Real Betis.
The Bluebirds manager spoke to Grujic on Tuesday, while he has also been chatting to Julian Ward, Liverpool’s loan pathways and football partnerships manager.
Warnock remains ‘optimistic’ that Serbian international Grujic will rejoin Cardiff.
Grujic played a 28-minute cameo for Liverpool on Wednesday night during their 2-1 International Champions Cup victory over Manchester City in America.
Warnock dismissed speculation that Crystal Palace are keen on the midfield player, saying: “I’m not sure about that if I’m honest,” he said.
“If he’s going to stay in the UK I believe he will come to us. I think a new Liverpool contract is involved or something like that and It all depends on their negotiations with him.”
City could yet add three new signings before the transfer deadline on August 9 – two in midfield plus a striker.
“We remain optimistic and should know within the next few days on that one,” says Warnock. “I’m constantly in touch with Marko, still optimistic.
“But we’ve also found a back-up who we are trying to hold onto for another few days, just in case. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get Marko, but it would not be the end of the world.
“We could do with them both really. I’ll be having a chat with Mehmet (Dalman), Ken (Choo) and Vincent (Tan) over the next few days.”
“I’m looking at a permanent deal and also looking at the loan market. But I want Marko first.”
Grujic, 22, made 14 appearances for Cardiff during their promotion season and the Bluebirds manager says: “It will be resolved and I think they’d be silly to sell him at the minute. If he came with us and had a good season, he’d be worth a lot more.
“Another six months with us would give him more Premier League experience and he’d enjoy it with us.
“Liverpool will make a decision shortly because they know I want him for that first game, at Bournemouth.
“It would be great to get him for the Real Betis game next weekend. But he’s not losing any fitness and it’s just a matter of waiting for what you want.”
Warnock is working his players hard during training and matches, putting them through intense sessions on the morning of fixtures against Torquay (1-1) and the 2-1 defeat at Rotherham.
“The boys are probably not overpleased with me right now,” he said. “We trained yesterday and I felt they did okay against Rotherham in the eve ing. Certainly, I was not too disappointed.
“We changed it during the second half to give more players minutes and we looked a little lopsided when Rallsy (Joe Ralls) came off. We had Junior (Hoilett) and Patter (Callum Paterson) operating in midfield.
“Ideally I want Aron Gunnarsson to play with Rallsy, Marko or players like that in the centre
“I started with a back three because we will use that system at times this season. It was a bit in and out, but we have film on playing that way now and we can talk about it.
“Fitness is coming on and I was quite pleased with defending at set pieces at Rotherham. One or two runners cost us.”
Warnock revealed Cardiff have have enquiries about goalkeeper Lee Camp, Anthony Pilkington, Lee Tomlin and Omar Bogle, who are all available.
Cardiff City’s friendly fixture at Greenock Morton has been cancelled.
— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) July 26, 2018
The fixture was due to be played on Tuesday, July 31 at Cappielow Park in Scotland, but Warnock says: “Unfortunately, Greenock have been struggling with injuries and I didn’t want us to go there and face anything less than what we’d consider as being a strong first team.
“We’ll continue our pre-season preparation with Saturday’s game at Burton Albion and then I’m in the process of arranging a training game behind closed doors next week for some of the lads to get more minutes under their belt.
“Then host Real Betis a week on Saturday which will give us exactly the sort of run-out we need before kicking off the Premier League season against Bournemouth the following weekend.”