Kevin McNaughton - Deal or no deal?
Malky Mackay appears to be in the market for a right back and Kevin McNaughton is out of contract in the summer, with no sign of a forthcoming offer. It doesn't look good for Super Kev.
A firm fan favourite, although maybe not as firm as a couple of years ago, McNaughton has experienced plenty of highs and lows in his 270 games for the club.
He has been at the forefront of Cardiff's pursuit of top-flight football and in his seventh season with the club, they may finally achieve that goal, with McNaughton on the periphery.
Having started all of Cardiff's first 11 games, McNaughton lost his place after the 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest and has been used sparingly since.
Having sat out the next four games, he returned as cover for the absent Matthew Connolly against Hull, but limped off after 18 minutes. He returned three games later to deputise for the suspended Mark Hudson in the shock defeat against Peterborough and was withdrawn after 50 minutes.
He played against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day due to Connolly's suspension and did a sterling job of marshalling Wilfried Zaha, retaining his place for the 1-0 win against Millwall. He has since returned to the bench and is likely to remain there for the visit of Ipswich on Saturday and beyond.
Should Malky acquire a new right back, it would surely relegate McNaughton further down the pecking order, unless injuries and suspensions begin to stack up, as a lack of defensive strength in depth remains. Whether or not Malky has lost faith in McNaughton remains to be seen, but as Robert Earnshaw can attest, if he has, there is no way back.
McNaughton is keen to remain with the club, recently stating: "I hope to stay, I would love to stay, but the decision is up to the club really. I would sign in a heartbeat. I'd definitely like to see out my career at Cardiff, my children were born here, it's my home really, but the way the club is progressing, you can't always hang on to it. Sometimes you have to move on just to get playing regularly. I've not spoken to the manager about it. I've just been busy grafting away to try to get myself back in the team. That's the main priority right now."
Mackay has commended McNaughton's attitude and application since losing his place, stating: "Kevin has reacted in exactly the way I expected. He is a top professional and, as always, is working to ensure he is pushing for a starting place and ready when needed."
His commitment and tenacity has never been questioned, but whether or not McNaughton is in decline is a fiercely debated topic amongst fans. Rarely playing 90 minutes without hobbling off at some stage, maybe so many impact injuries have taken their toll?
His distribution remains his main weakness and having grey hair probably doesn't help when you're trying to earn a new contract in your thirties, but I would certainly offer him another year or two. Short of numbers in defence, McNaughton's versatility is a bonus and seeing as Andrew Taylor agreed a two-year contract extension in November, despite his many shortcomings, I think McNaughton is certainly no worse. He may not be good enough to start in a Premier League side, should promotion be secured, but he wouldn't let anyone down if called upon.