You’re The Future . . . Cian Ashford Tipped For Big Things By Cardiff City Clubmate

Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters (right) is tackled by Cardiff City's Cian Ashford during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Wales. Picture date: Saturday April 20, 2024. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)

You’re The Future . . . Cian Ashford Tipped For Big Things By Cardiff City Clubmate


By Gareth James

Cardiff City’s match-winning teenager Cian Ashford has been described as “the future of the club” by teammate Famara Diedhiou.

The high praise came after Ashford scored a brilliant winner for the Bluebirds at the weekend as they beat Southampton, 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The goal capped an eye-catching display from Ashton, 19, as the midfielder showed maturity and energy in his first start for the club.

Saints should have scored three or four before the break, in addition to the lead they held through Joe Aribo.

That enabled substitute Diedhiou to equalise before Ashford – a 19-year-old local lad from the Rhondda – ripped home a deflected winner from 25 yards deep into added time.

Ashford looks the real deal for the Bluebirds, a precious find in the absence of injury-struck Aaron Ramsey.

Striker Diedhiou – who has played in France, Turkey and Spain – certainly thinks so and said: “He’s the future of the club.

“He is a very good player – a dominant player – and he’s been showing that in training.

“I am happy for him and he got to celebrate in front of the Canton Stand as well. The coach has tried to give him his chance and he has taken it.

“The same with Raheem Conte (21), as well. You can see they have talent.

“They are young, so we try to give them confidence and push them. They just need to keep going.”

The unexpected win could be enough for Bluebirds boss Erol Bulut to sway owner Vincent Tan into offering the Turkish manager a new contract.

Diedhiou added: “I think we showed a strong mentality to come back and win the game at the end.

“The manager likes us to play with freedom. Sometimes mistakes happen and it doesn’t work, but sometimes it can.

“We work hard and we’ve scored goals in 90+10 minutes and now 90+6, so that shows our strong mentality.”

The inconsistency of Cardiff’s season is crystalised in their last six games, which have gone: LWLWLW.

It’s been that kind of binary season for Bulut’s Bluebirds, who are mid-table with 19 wins and 20 defeats.

Likewise, it seems you could toss a coin over whether Tan keeps his man.

Wisely, Bulut is keeping his own options open and said: “I don’t want to speak too much about this situation, it’s up to the board either way.

“From my side, I hope to make the right decision for myself and my future.”

It was a first defeat against Cardiff for Southampton manager Russell Martin, who had won his previous five, including four on the bounce as head coach at Swansea City.

But Martin insists the form-students, the analysts and number-crunchers have all got it wrong when it comes to the secret of getting through play-offs.

The Southampton boss admitted his team’s hopes of gaining automatic promotion are highly unlikely after this shock defeat, sealed by Ashford’s 96th minute winner.

But if Saints are forced to go through the play-offs then Martin will not lose sleep over whether or not they have the M-word.

“People talk about momentum or disappointment and all that stuff, but what it comes down to is a two-game, then one-game mini-season,” said Martin, who captained Norwich City to play-off success in 2015.

“I’ve been through the play-offs as a player and I’ve won them. It’s about how you cope with them and I’ve a good understanding of what’s required in terms of the mentality of the group.

“I have said to the players – we still have a chance to achieve what we want to achieve.”

Three successive victories while their rivals faltered had hauled Saints back into contention for automatic promotion, but that conviction was absent against Cardiff.

It means even if Martin’s men win at Leicester City On Tuesday, they would still be at least two points adrift of the top two, with just two games to go.


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