By Paul Jones
Mick McCarthy has admitted Cardiff City’s faltering promotion bid is likely to cost them their loan stars such as Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo.
With realistic hopes of making the play-offs appearing to have gone following the 2-2 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers, the Bluebirds manager is readying himself for a summer of rebuilding.
That is set to mean the departure of borrowed talent who might have stayed had the club managed to reach the Premier League.
Liverpool loanee pair Wilson and Ojo, plus Jordi Osei-Tutu of Arsenal are unlikely to hang around, while others such as Junior Hoilett, Josh Murphy and goalkeeper Alex Smithies could also be on the move this summer.
Quizzed about next season, McCarthy said: “I have a good idea already.
“I’ve been here nearly two months, so you’re always evaluating it and calculating what you need, what’s not going to be here.
“We’ve got players on loan who are very unlikely to be coming back and we will be losing a bit of quality there.
“The next five games, we want to win them and get points, but we will have an eye on what’s happening next season.”
Even if Cardiff could dramatically improve the form that has bought them one win in seven games, realist McCarthy knows it would take an unfeasible collapse of their rivals for them to make the top six.
Another season in the Championship is unlikely to appeal to Wales striker Wilson who has already done stints with Derby and Hull in the second tier and is keen to return to the Premier League where he spent last season on loan with Bournemouth.
Cardiff might have more luck with Ojo, but he, too, will look for a Premier League opening if he leaves Anfield either permanently or on another loan deal.
Osei-Tutu was always likely to return to Arsenal and his injury-ravaged season has not been a success.
McCarthy’s realism comes from the fact that Cardiff are unlikely to make up nine points on sixth place Bournemouth, who also have a game in hand, with just five matches remaining.
“Whether we won all our games or not, the other teams are capable of winning theirs,” he added.
“I know we had a great start with the draws and all the wins, everything was going particularly well,” McCarthy said after the draw with Blackburn.
“I was never fooled by it, that I thought we were suddenly one of the best teams in the league. We were having one of the best runs in the league.
“As well as having lost Joe Bennett, Joel Bagan, Sean Morrison, which doesn’t help. Although the lads who have come in have acquitted themselves well.
“We definitely need our best team out and need to be fully at it. We are not the best football team in the league, but when we are fully at it we are a real handful, and that’s been proven with the results we’ve had.”
Blackburn will also do well to hold onto their prized asset, Adam Armstrong, whose two goals put him on 21 for the Championship season.
Only Ivan Toney at Brentford and Norwich’s Teemu Pukki have scored more and Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is clear why the likes of Everton and West Ham have been linked with the 24-year-old.
“Adam has got a no back-lift, a punchy shot off both feet and that’s something he developed as a kid,” said Mowbray.
“He has the ability to swivel either way with his back to goal and the bottom line is that you give him an inch, he’ll score a goal.”