Bristol City are one of the sides that look to have benefited from Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League as they snapped up two players that Scott Parker deemed excess to requirements in the summer.
The Robins signed 20-year-old full-back Steven Sessegnon and central defender Alfie Mawson on season-long loan deals from the west London club during the window as they looked to bolster new head coach Dean Holden’s options at the back.
Landing Mawson, who has 80 Premier League appearances and an England call up to his name, seemed like a great bit of business for City and the 26-year-old will likely be eager to impress after recovering from yet another injury.
Here at FLW, we bring you our new The Hat-Trick feature, with Mawson’s loan move to Ashton Gate in the spotlight…
How’s it gone so far?
So far it’s been a match made in heaven.
City are top of the Championship and Mawson has become a key figure already, starting their last four league games and wearing the captain’s armband in all of those due to the absence of Tomas Kalas.
The three at the back system that Holden has employed suits the 26-year-old, who is as comfortable in possession as he is solid defensively, perfectly.
Of players to start for the Robins this term, only Kalas averages more clearances, only Tyreeq Bakinson averages more tackles, only Zak Vyner averages more blocks, and only Taylor Moore averages more passes (Whoscored).
With City’s two other experienced centre-backs, Kalas and Nathan Baker, both sidelined due to injury, Mawson’s presence in the defensive line has helped young defensive duo Taylor Moore and Zak Vyner to flourish and been a key factor in their early-season success.
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What issues does he face?
Kalas’ return to fitness is likely to intesify competition for places in the defensive line but it’s very difficult to see Mawson being the one to lose out when the club captain returns to to the starting XI, which could be against Middlesbrough tonight.
Staying injury free has proven a tough task for Mawson over the last few seasons and that is no doubt an issue that will be on his mind as we plunge deeper into the Championship campaign.
From a team perspective, City were dealt their first “punch on the nose” as Barnsley’s late equaliser put an end to their 100% league record on Saturday and they will be keen to bounce back and keep their momentum going ahead of a very busy period.
The 26-year-old will be hoping for more of the same and to turn his side’s strong start into a promotion push.
The return of Kalas should only strengthen City’s defensive unit and may mean that Mawson is given even more freedom to push forward into midfield.
In his short time at Ashton Gate, the Fulham loanee has established himself as not only an integral player but also a leader and seems to have won Holden’s trust over very early.
Mawson won’t like to see his parent club floundering in the Premier League but he’ll want to continue to put in quality displays for the Robins to show that sending him away in the summer was a mistake.