City blues - but Bonner back to best

Last updated : 08 March 2003 By Michael Morris

BORN-again midfielder Mark Bonner yesterday revealed he felt like quitting Cardiff City six weeks ago.

The 28-year-old may have started City's last three matches, but last Christmas the former Black-pool player found himself frozen out of the first-team picture at Ninian Park and contemplating his football future.

For the first time in his four years with the Bluebirds, the Ormskirk-born player considered handing City manager Lennie Lawrence a transfer request.

"There was a time - six weeks ago, in fact - when I was going nowhere. I felt I wasn't going to get back into the side," said Bonner.

"The team was doing well, the gaffer didn't look like he was going to change anything and the substitutes were always the same.

"I was playing reserve games and I just felt I wasn't getting anywhere, particularly over Christmas when there weren't any reserve games.

"I was thinking maybe I need to look elsewhere. That was the first time I thought about leaving Cardiff since I joined the club."

Bonner, who has impressed in the last three games at Port Vale, Stockport and Brentford as Lawrence has reverted to a three-man midfield admits that he has had a difficult season.

"I was injured at the start so I had to play catch-up regarding fitness," he said. "Then there wasn't a reserve game for five or six weeks.

"I don't like watching games from the stand. A lot of friends within the game told me to stay positive and that I'd get my place back.

"It's frustrating when you're not in the squad and not travelling. But I'm back in the side and my aim now is to keep hold of the shirt."

The midfielder's return has coincided with a series of good results, the Bluebirds collecting seven points from a possible nine.

After making his first league outing in the 1-0 loss at Huddersfield at the end of January, Bonner was give another chance for the trip to Port Vale 10 days ago.

City left Vale Park with a 2-0 win and Bonner kept his place for the 1-1 draw at Stockport and the 2-0 victory at Brentford.

Bonner, whose contract expires at the end of next season, said, "Some players give up and hand in a transfer request when they're not in the team. I thought maybe I would have to move on.

"I'm one of those who gets their head down and tries to get back in the team." Former City boss Frank Burrows brought Bonner to Ninian Park on a Bosman free transfer in the summer of 1998.

Despite Bluebirds owner Sam Hammam managing to lure big-money players to the club, Bonner - who tomorrow will start a home game for the first time this season against Notts County - has refused to sanction his City obituary.

"It does help if you've come to the club for a lot of money, but if you perform on the pitch you should get selected no matter how much you cost," explained Bonner.

"A club doesn't have to pay millions to bring good players to the club and I'd like to think I've given Cardiff value for money."

City have drawn their last three matches at Ninian Park and will be looking to end their recent home jinx against the Magpies.

Lawrence is set to play the same formation that has done well in recent away matches with Bonner alongside Willie Boland and Graham Kavanagh in the City mid-field.

"The Cardiff fans have got to be patient," said Bonner. "If we don't score early they've got to stick with us. It might take 80 minutes for us to get the first goal.

"Before the last three games we would have taken seven out of nine points. All of those games were a battle, especially the ones at Stock-port and Brentford."