Neil Harris: Cardiff City can compete at 'top end' of Championship next season

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Cardiff players ‘should be proud of themselves’

Neil Harris believes Cardiff City have proved they can compete for a Premier League return next season after their play-off semi-final defeat to Fulham.

Cardiff threatened to make history by overhauling a two-goal deficit from the first leg at Craven Cottage only to go down 3-2 on aggregate.

But a proud Harris said his players are already relishing the prospect of going again in 2020-21.

"There's so much more to come from us," said Cardiff boss Harris.

"We've dragged it to where we are, but there is still more to come mentality and quality-wise.

"That's what gives me the excitement and hope moving forward that we can be a promotion-winning team.

"There's no disappointment over the summer. We are straight into next year and our job is to be even better than this year. On September 12th, we will be ready."

Relegated from the Premier League last season, Cardiff looked a long way off promotion contenders when Harris took charge of a side lying 14th last November.

Yet they finished fifth after making big strides forward under Harris and pushed Fulham right until the end on a night of tension at Craven Cottage.

Curtis Nelson scored his second goal of the season to give Cardiff an early lead but Neil Harris' team could not overhaul the two-goal deficit from the first leg
Curtis Nelson scored his second goal of the season to give Cardiff an early lead but Neil Harris' team could not overhaul the two-goal deficit from the first leg

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Cardiff went ahead early on through Curtis Nelson only for Neeskens Cabano to equalise within a minute.

Lee Tomlin put the visitors 2-1 up early in the second half but they could not find the goal which would have forced the contest into extra time, with Robert Glatzel firing over deep in the dying seconds.

Harris said it would be wrong to "get carried away" and suggest his team can compete for automatic promotion next season.

But he added: "I think what we have shown is that we have the capability within the group to compete at the top end of the division.

"What we have done is found a determination in us, a capability in us and a spirit in us that shows we can mix it in a direct style of play and be aggressive in our approach but also pass teams off the pitch as well.

"We have done that both in the last six months and the last six weeks. That's the blend of football I want."

Harris said the upcoming transfer window will be "key" even though he does not expect a raft of changes.

"We are not going to sign seven or eight players," he said.

"It's just about adjusting slightly. Possibly players that maybe want to go and get some first-team football (will go), then (it will be about) filling in the gaps and hopefully adding some quality that makes us a better group."