Cardiff City grab headlines as loan star reveals intensity clash and Bluebirds face competition Tommy Doyle this summer

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These are your headlines from Cardiff City on Tuesday March 8

Connolly: First-team football was a shock

Cardiff loan man James Connolly says his first games for Bristol Rovers were a shock to the system, but the youngster says he enjoys being exposed to first-team football.

Connolly was thrown into the deep end when he signed for Gas, being put straight into the starting XI the day he joined the club.

Since then he hasn’t looked back and has been almost always there for Joey Barton’s team.

He says he’s loved every minute of his stay so far, adding he didn’t expect to play so much.

“It’s been a surprise (playing so consistently),” Connolly said. “When I arrived here, I wanted to play as much as possible, but the gaffer threw me, maybe by a bit of luck.

“I did well and the team did well so I kept my place so hopefully I can continue. When the team is doing well, all individuals tend to do well, so as long as we have a good base, it’s easy to achieve.

“I love it (at Bristol Rovers). It’s such a good club. The best club I’ve been to probably. The fans and the guys are really good. I love the gaffer and all the coaching staff ; I really appreciate that.

At his young age of 20, there is no substitute for playing time under your belt and doing so in the turmoil of Ligue 2 will have toughened Connolly.

“Everyone told me it was important to gain experience and now that I came here I understand why,” he said.

“The first games were a bit of a shock for me. The ball falls on you a little more than under-23 football, but you have to learn. You are thrown in, you have to swim. So, I took game by game and just tried to get better every day.

“There are good players in Ligue 2. It’s a good league and there are also physical players. Every game is different, but we’re going to play game by game and play to our strengths and hopefully the team will do well.”

Flynn can’t wait for Tomlin to build on a ‘solid’ first start

Walsall boss Michael Flynn hopes Lee Tomlin can build on his first Saddlers start this weekend.

After a few substitute appearances, the 33-year-old was started in the 1-1 draw with Barrow on Saturday, his first league start since playing for Cardiff against Blackburn Rovers in the Championship in October 2020.

Speaking to the Express and the Star, Flynn said of Tomlin’s display: “I thought it was a solid performance.

“With his experience and his movement, he was trying to put himself in the pockets.

“The ground being so wobbly killed him a few times. Having put himself in a good position, he fell either from his calf or from his knee.

“But the ball he put in the goal in the second half, it has to be a tap-in.

“With a little cruelty, someone is at the end of this. I don’t care if they slip and scrape all their teeth on the floor.

“As long as it’s in, it’s the desire and the passion they have to have. In other words, if it’s Alan Shearer, it’s in. It’s a goal.”

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Doyle likely to spark interest

Cardiff could well face competition from some of their Championship rivals if they wish to sign Tommy Doyle for another season on loan.

The Manchester City midfielder has become a key man under Steve Morison since his arrival in January, and the Cardiff boss has already said he would like to bring the 20-year-old back next season.

Simon Bajkowski, Manchester City’s writer for our sister title the MEN, thinks a return to the capital could well be a possibility, but admits City are unlikely to be the only ones interested, pointing to Huddersfield Town as another potential suitor.

“It’s certainly a possibility, but I imagine it will depend on how Cardiff’s ambitions can match those of City and Doyle. I would put Doyle in the same bracket as Jack Harrison, who has been loaned to Leeds United for a year in the Championship.

“He returned there the following season because the first year had been so good, but also because Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa remained a promising option as a club pushing for promotion.

“Huddersfield Town were one of the clubs really interested in Doyle at the start of this season and they obviously had a better and more stable season than Cardiff, so there will probably be teams there in the summer window who will be also keen to sign him.”

Read his full verdict here.

Fans deliver their verdict on out-of-contract stars

Cardiff fans have had their say on what should happen to the club’s out-of-contract stars this summer and have emphatically backed Joe Ralls as the man they would most like to keep.

Of the supporters who took part in WalesOnline’s survey, 95.5% said they would like to see the midfielder offered a new contract.

Goalkeeper Alex Smithies also received overwhelming support, with almost 82% calling on the Bluebirds Boards to strike a new deal with the Cardiff pundit.

Flint, with 63.5% saying they’ll keep him, Morrison (57.5%) and Vaulks (62.5%).

You can read the full survey here.

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