Remember Junior Hoilett? Canadian guy, about 5’8, used to patrol the left side of the team. He used to be a regular, but was last seen around these parts towards the end of January.
This is a weird one. Hoilett started Mick McCarthy’s first game in charge, a 2-2 draw in Barnsley, but only lasted 50 minutes. Cardiff were a goal down and soon after fell two behind. This prompted McCarthy to withdraw Leandro Bacuna, bring on Sean Morrison, go three at the back and adopt wing backs.
The impact was immediate, Cardiff salvaged a point and have not played with wingers since. That’s not to say that none of the wingers have featured of course, they now occupy a more narrow, central role. Just not Hoilett. That game was January 27th and despite regularly making the bench, Hoilett has not featured since.
To really rub it in, McCarthy routinely rotates those two spots between Josh Murphy, Harry Wilson, Joniesta, Sheyi Ojo and Leandro Bacuna. Despite a strange reluctance to make substitutions, McCarthy also always changes both of these positions, whether to refresh legs or because he’s not satisfied with the performances provided, but he has not once turned to Hoilett.
When asked about it recently, McCarthy claimed: “the lads who have played either side of Kieffer have played very well and that’s restricted his chances, but the next six games, who knows?” Suffice to say, he remained sat on his arse for the duration on Saturday too.
How to explain this? McCarthy clearly just doesn’t fancy him and disregarded him in no time at all, a bit like Robert Glatzel. You can almost understand Glatzel, who remains a key asset, but tends to amble about and look a bit disinterested. Hoilett has been a key player for Cardiff and you imagine that he also trains well.
He is versatile enough that he could have played at left wing back when Cardiff were struggling in that department, but never appeared to be a consideration. It’s got to the point where you wonder what it would take for Hoilett to actually get a game.
Hoilett turns 31 in the summer and his contract will soon expire. McCarthy has confirmed: ‘I haven’t had any discussions about his contract. That was ongoing before I got here. We will be having those discussions with him.’ That doesn’t sound particularly promising either.
There are some that will claim that his legs have gone and that it’s time for him to move on. Maybe that is the case, but he still deserves better than this. Lest we forget, this is the guy that played 3808 minutes of the promotion season and bagged nine goals. In comparison, he has recorded 1168 minutes this term and 1118 of those were under Neil Harris.
The assumption has always been that Hoilett will eventually head to MLS and maybe that will finally happen. He has always agreed short-term deals and hesitated on agreeing extensions. You imagine there won’t be a great deal of hesitancy this time round, but hopefully he will at least get some sort of send off and the chance to pull on a Cardiff shirt one final time before the season’s end. It’s the least he deserves.