AFTER knocking on the door of the Premier League for a number of seasons Cardiff City look better prepared than ever to finally follow rivals Swansea City into the top tier.
Manager Malky Mackay has built a team, that may not include the stars of past campaigns, but plays with a togetherness that has seen them reach third in the Championship and a semi-final berth in the Carling Cup.
Mackay has a few ‘names’ in his squad such as attacking duo Kenny Miller and Peter Whittingham but he hasn’t been afraid to give youth its chance too.
While Whittingham could play a part in this summer’s Great Britain Olympic Games team it has been the exciting young talent of 18-year-old Joe Ralls and 20-year-old Joe Mason who have got the Bluebirds fans talking.
Ralls had an interesting introduction to senior action.
As an Academy player signed from Blue Square Bet South club Farnborough, Ralls was one of three teenagers drafted into the Cardiff squad for their Carling Cup first round match against Oxford United.
After coming on as a 67th minute substitute in the 3-1 extra-time victory at the Kassam Stadium, centre-midfielder Ralls played sufficiently well to keep his place in Mackay’s thoughts for the rest of the season.
English-born Mason, who represents the Republic of Ireland at under 21 level, is having an impact in the Principality after his £250,000 move from Plymouth Argyle.
He opened the scoring in Cardiff’s last Championship match - a 3-1 home win over Reading - and is looking a shrewd bit of business as a player who plays in between the strikers and midfield.
The Bluebirds are waiting on news of defender Kevin McNaughton’s fitness after he limped off at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night in the Carling Cup. Darcy Blake would deputise if needed.