Striker back to make more memories for City fans in 2015
Wembley goal in 2012. thatHad Joe Mason never kicked a ball in anger for Cardiff City again, his name would nonetheless remain etched in the annals of the Club’s history for
Fortunately the striker is back from extended loan time at Bolton Wanderers, rehabilitated and ready to re-establish himself as Bluebird.
Joe’s not one to dwell on past glories. While the opener in the League Cup Final against Liverpool three years ago will likely go down as the 23 year old’s career highlight to date, the ambitious and affable striker is intent on creating more memories for the Bluebirds in the coming years. Injury prematurely ended a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers at the turn of the year, but the Trotters’ disappointment will no doubt be City’s gain as one of the Club’s most naturally talented finishers finds himself on the brink of a first-team return
Signed from Plymouth Argyle in 2011, Joe netted 18 goals in 75 Cardiff City appearances prior to linking up with Bolton during the Bluebirds’ 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season as he sought to find game time and match fitness. Having agreed a contract extension to secure his long-term City future until 2018, Joe again returned on loan to the Macron Stadium back in August where he went onto score four goals in nine games for Wanderers prior to his injury setback.
CF11 spoke exclusively to Joe last week as he began thinking about lacing up his boots to face Brentford in DVP/U21 action the following day.Cardiff City Playerand
CF11: It’s fantastic to see you back Joe – on the brink of some competitive playing time with the DVP squad and hopefully at first-team level sooner rather than later. Tell us about the injury and your return from Bolton.
JOE: I’m really pleased to be back. I tore my hamstring whilst up at Bolton just before Christmas. It was a grade three tear so I knew it would mean me being out for some time. It was a bit of a freak injury really; I back-heeled the ball in training and just felt something go. That was all it was. It took a little longer than I had hoped for me to recover, but it was important that I had no setbacks during that time. Things have gone smoothly for me on that front and I’m hoping to get some more 45-minute appearances under my belt for the Development squad in the next couple of weeks. It’s been a long time coming, but I can’t wait to get back in the Cardiff City shirt. I signed a new deal with the Club earlier in the season before going out on loan to Bolton, so hopefully I can kick on for the Club now I’m back here.
CF11: Obviously the first step after an injury such as yours is getting game time with the Development squad. That being said, are you still hopeful of getting first-team game time before the season’s out?
JOE: Yeah, I definitely want to get involved with the first team again this season. I’ve been feeling decent in training and there’s still eight first-team games left to play. Hopefully there’ll be chances for me between now and the end of the season, but I’ve got to get myself closer to the match fitness I want with the Development squad first of all.
CF11: Having you back will feel like a new signing – but this is, of course, your fourth year as a Bluebird! After the highs of the 2011/12 season for you personally – especially that goal at Wembley – does it feel like you need to re-establish yourself now with the City fans?
JOE: That goal feels like a long time ago! Somebody reminded me the other day actually that it was three years since the League Cup Final. It’s a bit strange I guess. My first couple of years here went really well, but then I didn’t play at all during our time in the Premier League and so had to go and get some game time elsewhere for my own development. I had a couple of spells at Bolton in the Championship last year and then obviously went back there in August before the injury in December. I’ve been back since January to do my rehab and although it’s been a frustrating time, now is the chance for me to get back out there and show what I can do. I’m settled in Cardiff – have a place here – and I want to set a marker for next season.
CF11: Of course, we can’t mention Bolton and your time there without asking how ‘Super’ Kevin McNaughton is getting on!
JOE: (Laughs) He’s a great character as everybody knows, I don’t need to tell anybody that! Kev hasn’t changed a bit; he’s still a great lad to have around the place as he always was here. I know he’s struggled a bit with injuries in the past few months, but it was good to have him around during my time there.
CF11: Tell us what we’re going to see from Joe Mason in 2015. Have you added anything to your game, would you say?
JOE: Yeah, I think I probably have. Under Dougie Freedman [former Bolton Manager, replaced by Neil Lennon in October 2014] I played more as a number nine, compared to my first couple of years here where I normally played as a number ten or out wide. Now I like to think of myself predominantly as a striker – a nine or ten – and not so much of a wide option. I like to get in the box and score goals – that’s what the game is all about of course!
CF11: Russell Slade has spoken about you regularly in recent months, in terms of looking forward to seeing you play and joining his Group. Has that belief from the Manager inspired you to work hard and come back stronger?
JOE: Yeah of course, it’s been good to hear those things. To know the Gaffer wants me to be part of things here makes me push even harder to get back into the first-team set up as soon as I can. As I said, the target is to get some game time before the season is out so I can show the Manager and the fans what I’m about. Hopefully there will be games for me to play if I can impress the Manager enough in training and in the development games.
CF11: And finally Joe, how pleased have you been to see your pal – Joe Ralls – become an integral part of the City setup. He’s played in a couple of positions this season and seems to be another young player that the Staff have big hopes for.
JOE: It doesn’t surprise me and I think that goes for the rest of the lads as well. Rallsy is very highly rated here by all of us and he’s a good lad off the pitch as well. I get on well with Joe; he’s a reliable player who is really coming into his own this season.