This season is a hugely important one for the long-term future of Cardiff City’s Max Watters with him moving to MK Don’s on loan to try and prove himself to the Bluebirds.
Watters only made the move to Cardiff during the January transfer window last season.
That came with the Bluebirds deciding to bring him in from Crawley Town after his excellent form for the League Two side during the first half of the 2020/21 campaign.
The 22-year-old managed to register 13 goals in 15 appearances for Crawley during the first half of last season and that form showed that he has the potential to make the step up to the Championship in the next few years.
However, he was unable to establish himself in Cardiff’s side making just three appearances in the second half of last term.
The decision was made by the Bluebirds to send him to MK Dons in League One in the summer to try and allow him to get some valuable game time throughout the campaign in the third tier.
MK Dons have been able to develop a lot of talented forward players over the last few years. They seemed to be the right potential place for Cardiff to send Watters to for him to gain some confidence and form to take back to them next season.
So with that in mind, we assess how Watters is getting on and whether he has a chance of making it into the Bluebirds’ first-team next term…
How is he getting on?
It has been a case of having to bide his time to break into MK Dons’ starting line-up in League One so far this term for Watters.
That comes with the third tier outfit having the likes of Troy Parrott and Mo Eisa ahead of him in the pecking order.
The forward has managed to make seven appearances in total in the third tier so far, five of which have come from the bench.
During that time he has managed to register one goal which came during MK Dons’ 4-1 win at Gillingham in September.
The 22-year-old has been able to average 1.1 shots per game so far during his seven League One appearances for MK Dons, with an average of 0.9 of those attempts being on target.
However, he has so far this term missed four big chances in front of goal.
Watters continues to be an important member of MK Dons’ squad and he was brought off the bench in their 2-1 win at Wigan Athletic for the final 14 minutes of the match.
Having said that, he has a lot of work to do to get into their starting line-up ahead of or alongside the likes of Parrott and Eisa.
Liam Manning insisted to the media recently that MK Don’s need to see more from their attacking options in terms of their finishing in the final third.
That included Watters and shows that he still needs to work on the clinical side of his game.
Have Cardiff City had a higher or lower average attendance compared to these 23 sides this season?
Can he break into the Bluebirds’ first-team?
Considering that Watters has not been able to fully establish himself in MK Dons’ side in League One this season, it is difficult to determine whether the forward could come into the Bluebirds’ side when he makes a return to Cardiff the summer.
Watters will need to do a lot more to try and force his way into MK Dons’ starting line-up on a more regular basis during the rest of the season.
To do that he may need to take some of the chances that have come his way when he has come off the bench so far this term.
Things at Cardiff could be complicated further for Watters if Mick McCarthy losses his job before the season comes to an end.
That is certainly something that might happen despite the club sticking with him so far amid mounting pressure following their poor recent form.
Therefore, Watters might have to impress a new manager over the course of the second half of his loan spell with MK Don’s.
That might give him a chance to put himself in a better position to come back to Cardiff and fight for his place in the summer.