Bolton Wanderers loan star Joe Mason tipped to hit the heights
LITTLE was known in these parts about Cardiff City loanee Joe Mason before he arrived at the Reebok – but one member of the Wanderers camp was surprised he was allowed to leave the Premier League in the first place.
Kevin McNaughton, himself a Bluebirds ex-pat who has gained popularity in Bolton since arriving on loan, believes the young striker should be commanding a regular spot in Malky Mackay’s top flight side.
Although highly rated in South Wales, Mason had featured just twice in the Capital One Cup before being allowed out to boost Dougie Freedman’s striking ranks at the end of last month.
McNaughton reckons Cardiff’s loss is Wanderers’ gain – but he believes the 22-year-old will be in a better position to challenge the likes of Peter Odemwingie, Andreas Cornelius and Frazier Campbell after a spell in the North West.
Speaking to The Bolton News, the Scot has tipped Mason to make an impact in this weekend’s derby against Wigan.
“If you speak to anyone at Cardiff they will tell you just how good he is,” he said. “I’m surprised that he hasn’t been involved in the Premier League. “But that’s down to Cardiff and it has worked out well for Bolton because what you saw against Huddersfield sums him up, he does that every day in training.
“It’s no surprise to me how well he played but a few of the lads came up to me after that game and said that he’d impressed them.
“I think he is quality and hopefully he can take that into the Wigan game as well.”
Mason cut his teeth in league football at Plymouth but figured quite prominently in Cardiff’s promotion season, making 29 appearances and scoring six goals.
While game time in the Premier League has not been as plentiful, McNaughton reckons his team-mate will definitely go on to have a long career in the top division.
“He’s found himself out on loan but I think he’ll be a Premier League player, no doubt in my mind,” he said. “He’s got a lot of time on his side.
“Maybe he needs a few more games before making that step up. I think he’s good enough to play up there right now and it would have been good to see him in the Premier League team but it’s to Bolton’s benefit.
“If he can get another season under his belt with 20-30 appearances then it will stand him in good stead.”
Wanderers go into Sunday’s game at Wigan well rested after victory over Doncaster Rovers, while their opponents have faced two tough away games at Millwall in the Championship and in Slovenia against NK Mariobor in the Europa League.
Confidence levels are back up after successive defeats had dented an encouraging rise up the table and McNaughton reckons the local clash comes at a good time for the club.
“I think the place was a bit down, particularly after the second defeat, last week,” he said. “I didn’t think we played too badly against Middlesbrough and if we’d nicked a point there we might have taken a bit of momentum into the Huddersfield game. But to lose the way we did at the end of the game had a knock on effect on us during the week, it was a bit low.
“Thankfully the win on Saturday lifted us and if we’d have taken our chances it could have been a lot more.
“It lifted the morale in the camp, though, so we’re going into the weekend with a lot of confidence.
“We need to get on another run and get ourselves up in that top half of the table.”