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Page last updated at 22:20 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Cardiff City target Wigan midfielder Ben Watson

Wigan Athletic midfielder Ben Watson
Ben Watson won two England under-21 caps during his time at Crystal Palace

Wigan Athletic's Ben Watson has emerged as a January transfer target for Dave Jones as he bids to ease Cardiff City's central midfield injury crisis.

Jones is interested in signing the ex-England under-21 player and on-loan QPR midfielder on loan until the end of the season, BBC Sport understands.

Cardiff have no fit first-choice centre midfielders as Gavin Rae and Stephen McPhail are out for a few weeks.

While Joe Ledley is playing through the pain barrier as he needs hip surgery.

Watson, who joined Wigan from Crystal Palace for £2m last January, was linked with a season-long move to Cardiff in the summer before signing a four-month deal at Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers.

But his QPR spell is due to end on New Year's Eve and the 24-year-old is believed to be unsettled at Loftus Road after Jim Magilton's sacking earlier this month.

High-flying Cardiff, who are pushing for promotion to the Premier League, are interested in signing Watson.

The fourth-placed Championship club will have to pay half of the player's wages but the two clubs are not thought to have yet spoken about the intricate details of the deal.

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Watson made six Premier League starts for Wigan last season after signing a three-and-a-half year deal but has seemingly fallen out of favour since Roberto Martinez replaced Steve Bruce in the DW Stadium hotseat.

Watson, though, has been a key player for QPR since captain Martin Rowlands was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury so the London club will be keen to extend his loan deal until the summer.

But Cardiff are desperate for midfield reinforcements while Watson's availability will also alert many Championship clubs, especially Middlesbrough who lost out to Wigan when they tried to lure him from Palace last January.

Jones has long bemoaned his central midfield "problem area" and his crisis deepened when Scottish international Rae was ruled out for up to four weeks after breaking two bones in his right hand in Monday's 4-4 draw at Peterborough.

Republic of Ireland international McPhail is undergoing cancer treatment and will return sometime in January while Riccy Scimeca recently retired after succumbing to serious groin and ankle problems.

Wales international Ledley needs an operation - and potentially three months on the sidelines - to cure a hip problem while Championship top-scorer Peter Whittingham is carrying a thigh injury.

The Cardiff manager has prioritised signing midfield reinforcements in the January transfer window - especially with doubts over the future of Ledley, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

"That's why it's so vital that we get into the market and try to strengthen in that area," Jones told BBC Sport.

So Watson, who has played almost 200 league games, would be ideal for Cardiff as he is an energetic and powerful midfield general.

Jones only has teenager Aaron Wildig, who made his league debut earlier this month, and summer signing Solomon Taiwo as fit central midfielders - but neither are ready to become first-team regulars for the Championship play-off contenders .

Jones has also been linked with Ipswich and Irish midfielder Owen Garvan and Doncaster and Wales midfielder Brian Stock.



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see also
Cardiff prepared for Ledley exit
31 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Rae deepens Cardiff injury crisis
30 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Ridsdale backs under-fire Jones
30 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Cardiff's Scimeca quits football
17 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Magilton and Gorman in QPR exit
16 Dec 09 |  QPR
Cardiff see off winding up order
16 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Cardiff given Whittingham boost
14 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Jones' Cardiff midfielder crisis
11 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
Cardiff admit Ledley needs hip op
09 Dec 09 |  Cardiff
McPhail to have cancer treatment
21 Nov 09 |  Cardiff
QPR clinch loan deal for Watson
01 Sep 09 |  QPR
Wigan beat Boro to Watson signing
26 Jan 09 |  Wigan
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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