JOE Mason has warned the Championship that his burgeoning partnership with strike partner Lukas Jutkiewicz is only just getting going.
The on-loan front man has scored two goals in his last two games since returning from Cardiff City and pairing up with a player who had actually crossed his path before at Plymouth Argyle.
Mason hadn’t played a senior game when Jutkiewicz arrived at Home Park for a brief loan spell in 2008 – but six years on, the duo have reformed and are now among the hottest properties in the division, helping Wanderers to finally kick-start their season with back-to-back victories over Watford and Blackburn Rovers.
Mason heads to Leeds United this weekend full of praise for his new strike partner and confident their excellent start for the Whites can continue.
“I felt like we worked well together, so hopefully we can keep doing the same thing, working hard to carry on scoring goals together,” said the 22-year-old, who will be with the club until mid-April.
“The more game time I get the more confident I will be and, hopefully, that will show on the pitch.
“I actually knew Lukas from when I was at Plymouth when I was younger.
“I was in the youth team and he joined the club on loan from Everton – I only knew him briefly because he was a few years older but we also have a mutual friend, so it was great to be reunited with him.”
Mason’s first spell at Wanderers started with a bang, with a goal and a man-of-the-match display against Doncaster Rovers in his full home debut.
But the youngster suffered more than most as Dougie Freedman’s side struggled to carve out results pre-Christmas, particularly when part of a one-man attack.
Things look much brighter now for the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, with some Wanderers fans calling for the club to try to make his loan deal a permanent one in the summer.
“It was such an easy decision to return,” he said, “Especially as I’d had a good time here last year.
“I actually wanted to come back earlier but I’m here now and that’s all that matters.
“I’m determined to make the most of the opportunity that has been handed to me and hopefully I can score a few goals for Bolton in the process.”
Mason revealed that one of his early idols was Liverpool legend Michael Owen – England’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time.
The youngster, who has forged a reputation as a shy retiring type in the Wanderers dressing room, admits he has modelled his own game on the man once described as his country’s “Silent Assasin.”
“Even if he was having a quiet game he was always dangerous and capable of scoring goals,” Mason told the club programme.
“To watch him as a kid was just unbelievable – he was so prolific and definitely somebody that I looked up to and idolised.
“I was really just getting into football when he was in the prime of his career, so he was a great role model to have.”
In 2012, Mason faced Liverpool at Wembley in the Carling Cup final, in what proved a bittersweet day for the young Cardiff striker.
Although he opened the scoring, beating Pepe Reina just 19 minutes into the game, Liverpool went on to win on penalties after it had finished 2-2 over the course of two hours.
Despite the disappointment, Mason still regards that day as the highlight of his career so far.
“Obviously I’d looked up to Michael Owen as a youngster and I’d always enjoyed watching them (Liverpool) play during my childhood, so they were a second team of mine, so to speak,” he said.
“It was shame that we ended up losing the game itself but it was still an incredible experience for me.
“A lot of players won’t get the opportunity to play in a cup final at Wembley, so for me to do so at such a young age and to actually score was unbelievable.
“That goal itself is probably my favourite one that I’ve scored throughout my career to date too, just purely given the occasion and the importance of it.”