Will Vaulks is our January player of the month and who’d have thought that in November!
Vaulks was a name rarely uttered anywhere outside of Rotherham, that is until his breakout season in 2017/18 for the Millers. Having scored in the League One play-off semi-finals and played the full 120 minutes in the final, he made his first foray into Championship football the following year. The end of that season saw him make his international debut for Wales and he has since gone on to represent his mother’s country of birth four times, providing one assist.
Having seen his club relegated, Vaulks had nevertheless begun to make a name for himself in Championship circles. He quickly became well-known for his lung-busting coverage of the pitch over 90 minutes, those behemoth long throw in’s and his thunderbolt finishes from outside the box (see QPR away).
Whilst Rotherham had gone down, his stock had only risen and so it was something of a natural link for Cardiff City supporters to mention his name as a possible (dare we say it) successor to the dearly-departed Aron Gunnarsson. When then-manager Neil Warnock refused to dampen speculation surrounding his transfer, it was only a mild surprise to see him pull on the famous orange (away kit) of the Bluebirds.
Some seven months on from his unveiling, it has taken him almost as long to break into the first XI. Surprisingly overlooked for some time by Warnock, Vaulks had to make do with a bit part role in the opening months of his Cardiff career. Vaulks endured a challenging 45 minutes away to Reading and was hauled off to be replaced by Patterson as Cardiff City desperately tried to remedy a shocking first half. In fairness, he was not alone and this, along with the QPR debacle, remain Cardiff City’s worst performances of the season. As the months passed, some supporters began to question the wisdom of signing a player who only last season was an unlucky exclusion from the team of the season.
Not so anymore, Vaulks has taken the opportunity afforded him by Neil Harris (not forgetting the injury forced absence of Joe Ralls), to stake a claim for a starting position. Blessed with an abundance of energy, just the right amount of aggression and those long, long throws, Vaulks has become something of a fixture in the City first team.
It’s testament to how far he has come to say that it would be difficult to drop him from the starting XI now. He has now racked up 11 games since the start of December, with the last month seeing him open his City account away at QPR, he has offered real threat and industry and is a welcome thwart in front of Marlon Pack.
A worthy winner and we are all looking forward to seeing what comes next.