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Five players Cardiff City should sign

Sports Mole picks out five players that could help Cardiff City retain their status as a Premier League club next season.

After three years of heartbreak in the playoffs, Cardiff City finally made it to the Premier League last season when they stormed to the Championship title under the guidance of Malky Mackay.

While the Bluebirds found it tough going to get out of the second tier, it promises to be an even sterner task to prevent them from dropping straight through the trap door at the first time of asking.

Reports have claimed that the club's Malaysian owner is prepared to hand Mackay up to £25m this summer, but it is still likely to be a difficult task for the Scot to convince proven top-flight players to join his battlers.

Nevertheless, Sports Mole has selected five players that we believe would boost Cardiff's chances of survival.

Joseph Yobo, Fenerbahce

To stand any chance of staying up, newly-promoted sides need to make themselves as watertight defensively as possible. Take Ian Holloway's Blackpool of a couple of years ago - they were entertaining to watch and scored plenty of goals, but their failure to keep the ball out of their own net ultimately cost them dearly and they have not returned since.

Cardiff have solid enough defenders, but there is very little Premier League experience among them.

While he may now be 32, Yobo would provide the Bluebirds' rearguard with a decent working knowledge of how to defend effectively week in and week out against top-class strikers.

He spent eight seasons at Everton up until his switch to Turkey and was often a starter under David Moyes, who always had decent defences at Goodison Park.

What's more, Yobo would not take too much out of Mackay's kitty. Recent speculation has claimed that the Nigerian international is eager to leave Fenerbahce and could be available for just £2m.

Leon Barnett, Norwich City

Mackay knows all about Barnett's qualities, having taken the defender on loan towards the end of last season from Norwich City. The 27-year-old made a big impression during his short spell at the Cardiff City Stadium as he played a key role in helping to secure promotion.

What he provides at the back is pace - something that is needed in the Premier League. Defenders like Clint Hill are able to cope in the Championship, but when Queens Park Rangers played among the big boys last term, his lack of speed was punished on a regular basis.

It's unlikely that Barnett will be part of Chris Hughton's plans at Carrow Road for next season and so like Yobo, could be available for a relatively small fee.

He also has experienced the Premier League with both Norwich and West Bromwich Albion.

Jermain Defore, Leon Barnett© PA Photos

Liam Bridcutt, Brighton & Hove Albion

Cardiff have been linked with Lee Cattermole of late, but the Sunderland midfielder is far too much of a liability. Yes he does provide some much-needed energy and aggression, but you know that he will miss a number of matches through suspension - potentially at key points of the campaign.

Bridcutt is much more disciplined and in truth a much better footballer. He is one of a few players that still plays in the 'Makelele' role. However, not only can he stop attacks, he can also mount them with a decent range of passing.

Brighton boss Gus Poyet may have got carried away when he said that the 24-year-old could play for Real Madrid, but he does have the ability to perform in the Premier League.

With the Seagulls having also missed out on promotion, a move to Cardiff may tempt the Scotland international. He would also come with a point to prove after he was released by Chelsea in 2010.

Liam Bridcutt© PA Photos

Thomas Ince, Blackpool

There are a number of good midfielders currently at Cardiff, but it does seem that a lot of the creative burden is left to Peter Whittingham. Over a 38-game calender in the Premier League, it is likely to prove too much for one player to handle.

A number of players in Ince's position have tried their luck at the very top and failed to succeed - Chris Eagles and Henri Lansbury to name two.

It appears that Ince will be different though. The 21-year-old scored 18 goals last season and set up numerous others for his teammates. He has also made himself a permanent fixture in the England Under-21 side.

His father and manager Paul Ince recently insisted that it would take a "ridiculous offer" to tempt Blackpool into selling their star player, but he has just 12 months to run on his contract, meaning that he could be available for below his market value. Either that, or the Seasiders risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Darren Bent, Aston Villa

Of last year's promoted trio (Reading, West Ham United and Southampton), only the latter two stayed up. Why? Partly because they had a goalscorer. Rickie Lambert scored 15 times for the Saints, while West Ham shared the goals among Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan. Adam Le Fondre managed 12 for Reading, but a number of those were scored during a prolific January and not over the entire campaign.

Current Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell has shown in spurts that he can deliver in the Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, which means that another centre-forward is required.

He may very well take a large dent out of the wage bill on a weekly basis, but one thing Bent brings is goals. His face didn't fit at Villa last season under Paul Lambert, but prior to that at Sunderland he scored 36 times in 63 outings.

Going even further back he notched 25 in 79 at Spurs and a further 37 in 79 for Charlton Athletic - form that has seen him represent England on 13 occasions.

The 29-year-old may not be the tidiest of football players, but he has the pace to stretch defences, which in turn alleviates the pressure on his team.

Darren Bent© PA Photos

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Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway prior to kick off against Brighton on May 13, 2013
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