By Paul Jones
Neil Harris has dampened expectation that Cardiff City are in the market for Anthony Knockaert by suggesting links with the Fulham winger have been led by an agent.
The Bluebirds manager knows he needs to add some spark to his squad after a second successive sluggish home display led to a 2-1 home defeat to Reading on Saturday.
But Harris – who confirmed that Scotland international Callum Paterson is close to joining Sheffield Wednesday – claimed Knockaert for Cardiff as a loan deal was currently a figment of someone’s else’s imagination.
“Anthony Knockaert has proven himself to be a top player at this level,” said Harris of the Frenchman who left Brighton for Fulham as recently as July in a £10m deal.
“But has there been any contact from me or the club? No. I saw it on Sky Sports so I would suggest that’s probably been agent-led.”
Cardiff’s second successive home defeat showed how reliant they are on the fragile body of Lee Tomlin for any creativity.
He pulled a goal back late on from close range and his passing made Cardiff more of a threat after coming on as a second-half substitute, but Reading’s Michael Morrison and Lucas Joao had built a 2-0 lead for the Royals.
With none of their wide players finding any real form so far this season, Cardiff are not feeling the consistent full force of Kieffer Moore’s presence up front and Harris needs someone other than Tomlin to generate some fluency.
There may be some money available if the versatile Paterson moves on. He appears surplus to Harris’s requirements and the manager added: “I’ve been told that a deal is close to being agreed between Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff.
“If he does go then we wish Pato all the best. If not, then I look forward to seeing him on Monday.
“If Callum does move on then we certainly need to replace him. He is one of our attacking players and we need to have strength in depth during the course of the season.
“I’ve talked about adding in that area of the pitch already and if Callum is moving on then we need to add to it. I’m pleased with some of the variations we’ve got but I want more.
“I want selection headaches so if we do lose anybody we need to replace them, in my opinion.”
“I always want options. I’ve talked in every press conference I’ve done in the last few weeks about wanting options in different areas of the pitch. So, if Callum is moving on then we certainly need to replace him.”
“It’s difficult times at the moment, trying to balance books and making sure the manager has enough players at his disposal and I understand that fully, I’ve been doing the job long enough now.
“I believe we need more options. Would it have changed the result today? No. Defending better and being better with the transition of the ball would have helped to change the result.
“Moving forward, yes, I think we need to add to our group.”
Cardiff have now conceded four goals in their opening two home games, without managing a goal themselves and Harris is having to explain where the solid form of a weeks ago, in their play-off surge, has disappeared to.
— Giorgi Javoiani (@GiorgiJavoiani) September 26, 2020
“It’s hugely disappointing. We set our stall out at the start of the season to be resolute at home and build a platform for a top-six challenge.
“The frustrating thing for me is we’ve conceded four goals at home, and look at the goals. We have to learn. First goal against Sheffield Wednesday we give the ball away cheaply and the second comes from a set play, then today the first goal comes from a set play and the second from us giving the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park.
“That’s what hurts. We’re the better team, we’ve created the better chances, got more balls in the box, more set plays and we’ve lost the game. That’s the frustration.
“I said to the players the effort is there. After Sheffield Wednesday I questioned their focus but not today. If we want to be top-six side, we can’t give away poor goals.”