KEVIN McNaughton’s return to Cardiff City has left Wanderers with a hole they are yet to plug in their defence, admits Dougie Freedman.

The Scot proved a hugely steadying influence on his arrival at the Reebok in October – and hopes are high he could return in the next few weeks as Cardiff’s injury problems begin to subside.

McNaughton could line up against Wanderers tomorrow on either the right or left side of defence and Freedman believes the fact his absence has been felt so acutely reinforces the quality the 30-year-old brought to the team.

“Kevin was very important and let’s face it, he’s gone back there and gone into their team at Cardiff,” he said. “He’s proven how good a player he is.

“For a while we had a Premier League defender in our side and when that happens, you lose fewer goals.

“But he’s not here anymore. He’s back at Cardiff and that has left us needing to make sure we are harder to beat as a team, not just in the full-back position.

“We are very, very capable going forward. The problem is when you concede the goals we have at any level, we’re going to be chasing the game.”

Freedman is not especially worried that any trade secrets will be passed on by the former Aberdeen man, currently the longest-serving player on Cardiff’s books.

The Whites boss points out that the man they call “Super Kev” in South Wales only saw his side at their best.

“He’s a very quiet guy, Kevin, so I’m not sure he’ll pipe up,” he smiled.

“Our problem is that we’ve been so inconsistent. “Kevin has only seen the positive side of things. He’s probably only got good things to say over there because when he was here, we were okay.”