Cardiff City boss Mick McCarthy admits he’s delighted to see Isaac Vassell take such a significant step towards first team contention this week, and admits he’s faced something of a “counselling job”.
Vassell emerged unscathed for the under-23s against Wigan Athletic, playing a full 90 minutes for the second time in a week, having previously not managed a full game in around two years.
Saturday’s clash with Millwall will be too soon for the striker, but it seems only a matter of time before he’s knocking on the door, much to the delight of the Bluebirds boss.
“The more 90 minutes Isaac can get, the better it is for him and for us,” he said on Friday.
“I’m delighted for him because I’ve seen lads before who’ve had long-term injuries and it’s been two years since he had a full 90 minutes. That’s just dreadful for a footballer that just wants to play and wants to be fit.
“So it’s great for him. I’m delighted. And for us, he’s quite clearly a very good player.”
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Vassell’s nightmare stint in south Wales has clearly taken its toll, with McCarthy admitting he’s had to do his best to keep the 27-year-old focused on the task at hand, adding that he still believes the forward can play an important role in his plans for the upcoming season.
“The management of players is very important,” McCarthy said.
“Recognising the ones that do need it, it’s like a counselling job at times. I’ve been saying to him, we know he can play. There’s no doubt about his ability. He’s just got to get fit and get minutes and stay on the pitch. The more he does that, the longer he does that, the better it is for him.
“If you’re coming back and you’re not fully fit, your touch is not there, your finish is not there, and you can’t run as hard, or as fast. You get annoyed with yourself that you’re not playing to your ability.
“I’ve been at pains to say to him that it happens to everyone, every pre-season when they come back. So, if you can imagine missing two years, you just get your fitness back, get your strength back, get back to where you were and if you manage to do that, we’ve got a really good player.”
McCarthy has no fresh concerns heading into Saturday’s clash with Millwall, but Lee Tomlin and Isaak Davies are still seemingly some way away from first team contention.
“Tommo was poorly earlier on in the week so I’ve not seen him. I’m not sure if he’s in this morning [Friday]. I’ve not seen him.
“Isaak is just doing rehab and will hopefully be back soon.”
Meanwhile, the likes of Kieffer Moore and Rubin Colwill could soon be in contention to start after previously being restricted to appearances off the bench so far this season.
Both players were introduced during the 2-2 draw at Peterborough United on Tuesday night, but McCarthy says both are now in contention to be involved from the off.
“I would say so now. They’ve not had required minutes in terms of on the pitch but they’ve been training now. They’re in a much better position to be able to start.”