Dec 14 2012 by Nick Hilton, DPW West
JAKE CASSIDY heads back to the ground where his career-changing loan to Tranmere began when the League One leaders visit Sheffield United tomorrow.
The 19-year-old hot-shot from Conwy in North Wales had no experience in senior football when Wolverhampton Wanderers allowed him to spend the final two months of last season playing for Rovers.
Cassidy made a promising debut as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane in March and notched five goals in 10 games by the end of the campaign, helping Ronnie Moore’s team to fight off the threat of relegation with points to spare.
Wolves were sufficiently encouraged by the youngster’s progress to allow Cassidy to return to Prenton Park to spend the first half of this season with Tranmere on an extended loan.
He steps back into Bramall Lane as the 11-goal leading marksman in a Rovers team that has taken the division by surprise.
Cassidy does not underestimate the benefits gained from playing 31 games and spending seven months in training with Moore and his coaching staff at Tranmere.
“I think I’ve improved massively since I came here, not just as a player but as a person,” Cassidy said. “On the field I am scoring goals and playing well. Off the field I feel I am improving as well. The people at this club are fantastic. They welcomed me in the dressing room from the first day and I’ve learned so much from the manager and the staff.”
Cassidy believes his work with coach John McMahon has been particularly beneficial.
“Johnny Mac is brilliant,” Cassidy said. “He is always talking to you, telling you how to improve. You have got to listen to that. I’ve learned that when you listen, you improve a lot more.”
Cassidy has been told he must return to Molineux when terms of the current Rovers loan run out in the first week of January.
Wolves are keen to assess how the youngster copes with the demands of the game at Championship level.
If Cassidy shows the same predatory instincts in the division above, Tranmere may not see him again. Should Wolves decide Cassidy will benefit most from gaining further experience out on loan, they have told Rovers they will have first refusal on the player.
The arrangement obliges Moore to make contingency plans for finding a replacement striker, while hoping he does not have to act on them.
Cassidy says he can only accept his fate. He said: “Wolves have done what they have done for a reason. Obviously I would be gutted to leave this team when we are doing so well. Wolves have said they are bringing me back in January to assess me. While I am here all my focus is on what’s going on at Tranmere. When I go back to Wolves my focus will be there.”
Cassidy says he’s enjoying the passing football that kept Tranmere ahead of the division’s big spenders over the first half of the season.
“We’re trying to play good football,” Cassidy said. “Obviously last season was a bit different. Now we are a total football side and doing well. Teams have been catching up to us after we lost some games over the last month or so but we are still top, which shows what a good start we had.”