By Gareth James
Josh Bowler is determined to prove there is a healthy life beyond the Premier League waiting room.
Two Premier League clubs have forked out £3.8m for the services of Bowler, yet the Cardiff City loanee has yet to play a first team game in the top-flight for either club.
But the 24-year-old winger believes he is finding the confidence and consistency he needs to reach his goal of finally playing in the top flight in his latest loan spell at Cardiff City.
It is the fourth time in his career that Bowler has been sent out by his parent club, the Welsh capital being his latest temporary home after stints at Hull City, Blackpool and Olympiakos.
Cardiff City have announced the loan signing of winger Josh Bowler from Nottingham Forest ⚽️
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) August 1, 2023
A wonderkid in his teenage years at QPR, he was sold to Everton in the summer of 2017 for a fee of £1.5m.
Only 18 at the time, he played for the U21 side, but then got sent out on loan to Hull.
Four years on, he went to Blackpool on a free transfer having not made a first-team appearance for the Toffees.
Nottingham Forest were the next team to splash the cash on him, paying £2.3m for his services in September 2022 before immediately sending him to Greece for five months.
Josh Bowler calmly scores his first Cardiff City goal…
Starting as he means to go on 💪🏻pic.twitter.com/nyBujXuG5C
— Three Little Birds (@ThreeBluebirds_) August 6, 2023
He came back to Blackpool and this summer signed a season-long loan with the Bluebirds, who are currently ninth in the Championship table and travel to Preston North End on Saturday.
“The type of player I am, it is always going to be hit and miss. I try stuff that’s difficult, and I’m never going to back down from that,” said Bowler.
“Some games it won’t come off and that’s why I need to improve on my consistency. I think that is coming with age and more knowledge of the game.
“The aim was always to be a Premier League player and I don’t think my time is over, I think it can still come.
“It’s important that I don’t give up on myself, however tough it is, and every night I dream about making my Premier League debut.
“I feel I’m flourishing here at Cardiff and the manager has given me real self-belief and confidence. Confidence is the biggest drug in football – with it you can go out and be 10 times the player.
“I moved away from my family at 18 and since then living I’ve be on my own. It’s been a bit lonely, but there are people in worse situations.”
BREAKING: Josh Bowler becomes Cardiff City's sixth summer signing ✅
— Glen Williams (@GlenWilliams12) August 1, 2023
His ball of fluff, Pomeranian dog ‘Esaias’ keeps him company on his travels, with his Liverpool-based partner and family visiting him for matches.
“I’ve been on my own for a while now, so I’m used to that, and my little dog is massive for me and keeps me company,” said Bowler.
“It was a surreal moment for me to sign for such a massive club as Everton as a teenager. It was an offer I couldn’t turn down.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs in my career with moves to Everton and Forest, but that’s just like many other players. Finally, I feel I’ve got a bit of stability.
“But the experience at Everton was great for me, but it just didn’t click. I was quite shy, and it helped me to grow as a person and a player.
“The key is to never stop believing in yourself and to keep working hard. Because I’ve been close a few times to reaching my dream, it makes me even more hungry for it. I can taste it, but I haven’t had the full bite yet, and I really want it.”
The #Bluebirds are back in action this weekend! 💙
Get your tickets for our clash with Preston North End from the #CardiffCity Ticket Office. 🎟️
Find full travel details here ⤵️#CityAsOne
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) November 22, 2023
Cardiff manager Erol Bulut is keen to strengthen his squad with deals in January and has put Wales striker Kieffer Moore at the top of his festive shopping list.
Bulut just missed out on bringing the 31-year-old back to the Welsh capital after his transfer to Bournemouth for £5m in January 2022, having scored 20 goals for the Bluebirds in the previous season.
Now, Bulut wants to get him back in blue for a promotion push in the New Year. Ahead of their trip to Preston, Bulut’s boys are sitting ninth, two points off the play-off places.
Cardiff City want to re-sign Wales striker Kieffer Moore in January 👀
Here are his stats from his previous spell with the Bluebirds 📊#BBCFootball
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) November 24, 2023
“We have some players as targets for January and Kiefer Moore is one of them. We are looking to bring in three or four players,” said Bulut.
“We tried to get him at the start of the season but couldn’t fix it. It’s not just about us, we’ll have to talk to his club.
“They were trying to sell him at the start of the season and that’s why the deal didn’t go through. We couldn’t pay them because of an EFL ban on us paying fees.
“We have to have discussions with them and I don’t know what will happen in January, but our chairman and chief executive are working hard on it.
“I watched him start for Wales against Croatia and he played a good game. I was expecting him to start against Turkey earlier this week, but the manager decided otherwise.
“He’s been on the bench at Bournemouth this season, but if we can get Kieffer, we would not leave him on the bench – we would use him. That’s why I want him!”
Wales boss Rob Page has said he wants more of his players, who face a Euro play-off clashes with Finland and then either Poland or Estonia in March, to be playing regularly.
CARDIFF City manager Erol Bulut admitted that he attempted to lure Cherries striker Kieffer Moore back to the Welsh capital this summer. https://t.co/XUScOUH0Ns 👇 Full story
— Bournemouth Echo Sport (@BmthEchoSport) November 23, 2023