Kevin McNaughton hails Cardiff City fitness with MacKay

Kevin McNaughton
Kevin McNaughton joined in May 2006 is Cardiff's second longest-serving player

Cardiff City defender Kevin McNaughton admits they have less quality in their squad this season but insists they will make up for it in work ethic.

Malky Mackay has rebuilt a squad that lost 12 players including Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra, and Craig Bellamy.

The new Bluebirds boss has made nine signings since replacing Dave Jones.

"The manager doesn't have as good as squad as last season quality-wise," said McNaughton. "But in terms of work-rate and attitude it has been spot on."

McNaughton's displays for Cardiff earned him the club's Player of the Year award last season despite the Championship club's all-star playing roster.

The 28-year-old's form also won him an international recall to Scotland's squad for their friendly against Denmark on Wednesday.

The former Aberdeen defender has endured three successive play-off disappointments since moving to south Wales in May 2006.

Cardiff missed out on the play-off qualification on the final day of the 2008-09 season, lost the 2010 play-off final to Blackpool before losing to Reading in last season's 2010 play-off semi-finals.

McNaughton started his sixth season as a Cardiff player with a 1-0 win at title favourites West Ham United on Sunday and is impressed with their new fitness regime.

"We had good enough players to get promoted last season and that was the major disappointment," he said.

"We were good enough and we didn't do it. It was there for us last season.

"I didn't think we played particularly well as a team last season, in spells we did.

"Last season we had a lot of quality but maybe the work rate throughout the squad was not as good as it should have been.

"But I don't think we will have those problems this season. The work-rate is incredible.

"Under the previous management, it was a bit more relaxed and less regimented. Under the new manager, there is no stone unturned. Our fitness is looked at every single day.

"The training has been a harder throughout pre-season and the intensity has been a lot higher. The guys he has brought in are all workaholics as the manager's philosophy is we press teams hard and win the ball back quickly.

"We are going to run teams into the ground at times with the fitness throughout the squad.

"I think that'll be one of the key features for us this season and hopefully it will take us to where we want to go."