Even as a transfer embargo hangs gloomily over the debt-ridden club, Cardiff City have upped their preparations for the new season by bringing Jason Koumas back to south Wales.
Koumas, signed on a season-long loan deal from Wigan, was a revelation when he spent the 2005/06 season with Cardiff, and his talents could be crucial to the Bluebirds’ promotion hopes.
Dave Jones’ side are 5/1 to go up this season, and they will be more determined than ever to reach the Premier League having fallen at the agonising last hurdle of the play-off final last season.
Until the transfer embargo is lifted, however, Koumas and the club’s other two summer signings Tom Heaton and Daniel Drinkwater, are unable to be registered to play.
With this in mind, Cardiff are busy trying to fast-track a heap of paperwork to have the trio ready for their Championship opener against Sheffield United on Sunday, which the Bluebirds are 11/10 to win.
Cardiff owe money to the taxman and other clubs in unpaid transfer fees, and while the need to add to the squad is great, it is equally important that Jones holds on to his current players.
Joe Ledley has joined Celtic, and the club has also turned down bids for Michael Chopra (12/1 to be the Championship’s top scorer) and Peter Whittingham, who struck 25 goals last season.
While Chopra and Whittingham grab the headlines, however, the man who will be truly integral to Cardiff’s season is Jay Bothroyd.
The fans’ player of the season, Bothroyd is 11/2 to open the scoring against Sheffield United, and his strength and technical aptitude make him the team’s talismanic link between midfield and attack.
Who do you think will score the opening goal of the new season at the Cardiff City Stadium? Chopra is 9/2 to strike first against Sheffield United. See the full Cardiff vs Sheffield United Match Betting Odds market.