Premier League preview: Cardiff

Cardiff players celebrate Championship promotion in April 2013. Photo: PA

Last season: 1st (promoted as Championship title winners)

This time last year, disgruntled Cardiff fans were protesting about a new red home strip introduced for marketing reasons, but their season finished triumphantly when Championship title celebrations ended years of second tier frustration.

Grown men weeped in South Wales exactly 53 years to the day after Cardiff had last secured top flight football, as Malky Mackay reached the promised land for Malaysian owner Vincent Tan at the first attempt.

He did so in style, displacing Leicester at the summit in October where they remained until May, thanks in no small part to a work ethic and defensive solidity so often lacking under Mackay's predecessor, Dave Jones.

Club captain Mark Hudson was rightly crowned Player of the Year and will need to forge a solid understanding with marquee summer signing, Steven Caulker, if Mackay wants to avoid relegation in his maiden top flight campaign.

At the other end, Heidar Helguson filled in for the injured Nicky Maynard, using all of his Championship muscle and experience to help fire Cardiff into the top flight. The Icelandic veteran has since retired and been replaced by Andreas Cornelius.

Cardiff fought off competition from Southampton, Aston Villa and West Ham before eventually landing Cornelius from FC Copenhagen for a club record £8m, although the 20 year-old could miss the Premier League opener at Upton Park after picking up an ankle injury in training.

Mackay is banking on a strict pre-season regime introduced by conditioning coach Martyn Pert to give his team any kind of physical edge they can muster over more experienced Premier League rivals.

"All the stats showed last season that Cardiff players were high in the rankings when it came to runs made," said Pert, who worked with Mackay at Watford. "It will be the same at Premier League level," he added.

They will need more than hard work to survive in a division packed with unforgiving world class talent, even if the Bluebirds are best placed to survive from the promoted pack. Mackay must find another two or three quality signings before the transfer window closes in early September.

In: Andreas Cornelius (Copenhagen, £8m), John Brayford (Derby, £1.5m), Simon Moore (Brentford, undisc), Steven Caulker (Tottenham, £8m)

Out: Elliot Parish (released), Stephen McPhail (released), Jesse Darko (released), Nathaniel Jarvis (released), Heidar Helguson (retired)

Player to watch: Andreas Cornelius

Surprisingly, Cardiff's promotion winning side lacked a regular goalscorer. Heidar Helguson topped the charts with just nine in all competitions last term, something Mackay hopes to have addressed by welcoming Andreas Cornelius. The 6 ft 4 in striker is a battering ram built perfectly for the rigors of Premier League football, while his 20 goal tally last season is also pretty promising. Anything close to the impact Michu has enjoyed with Welsh rivals Swansea will be a huge boost for Cardiff's survival hopes.

Something to Prove: Nicky Maynard

Nicky Maynard was tipped to lead Cardiff's promotion charge after joining from West Ham last summer, but a serious knee injury three games into the season ruled him out until May. The 25 year-old striker will feel like a new signing to Cardiff supporters, and he'll be desperate for a flying start to prove that knee ligament damage hasn't hampered his ability to perform at the highest level.

Predicted finish: 16th

Title odds: 5,000/1

Your view:

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@itvfootball Yes, if we can make Cardiff City Stadium a fortress again. We also have a chairman not afraid to open his wallet if needed.

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@itvfootball I think we can gutted to got get Ince but we've got some great buys in other areas in desperate need of a winger