Cardiff City's Marko Grujic ( Steve Paston/EMPICS Sport)

Marko Grujic “toughening up” at Cardiff City as he hunts a World Cup place

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock has explained how Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic is being toughened up on loan in the Championship.

Grujic joined the Welsh side in a temporary deal last month, and has already made three appearances, all as part of Warnock’s starting lineup.

The 69-year-old has thrust his new signing into action without an adjustment period, clearly recognising the potential he has at his disposal in the Serbian.

But speaking ahead of what is likely to be Grujic’s fourth outing for Cardiff away to Millwall on Friday night, Warnock conceded that his transition has been a difficult one.

Interestingly, he said that “when he first came into training, he left a little bit to be desired,” indicating a possible reason for his lack of game time under Jurgen Klopp.

But Warnock believes that his immediate start to life with the Bluebird has “toughened him up,” which will be encouraging for Liverpool.

“The minimum requirement is effort because when you have ability like he has, it comes through on top,” the former Crystal Palace manager added.

“I think he’s realised that early doors and wants to stay in the team.”

Part of Grujic’s motivation to leave the Reds on loan was to secure a place in the Serbia squad for the World Cup next summer, and Warnock said he’s “got 17 games to show” he’s worthy.

However, in the long term this switch is designed to facilitate his move up the ranks under Klopp, and Warnock has used him in an interesting role so far.

While he made his name as a roving, progressive midfielder with Red Star Belgrade, he has been part of a deep-lying pairing for Cardiff.

“I think he’s learning about what we want him to do,” Warnock added. “He can play different roles and we’re trying teach him those roles.”

Warnock attested to the difficulties in taking up a new position, saying “in every game he’s stuttered at times and then regained his composure,” with Grujic lacking match fitness.

But his manager believes the youngster is getting to grips with the pace and physicality of the second tier, concluding that “he’s learning and he’ll be better.”

Grujic is likely to eclipse the number of first-team minutes he has played in a year-and-a-half with Liverpool (327) in just four games for Cardiff, proving the importance of this loan.

And as he learns to be more streetwise with his hulking frame, the hope will be he can take up a key role for both the Reds and Serbia in the near future.

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