Keane full of praise for Cardiff star Mason
CARDIFF City's attacking midfielder Joe Mason has been tipped for stardom by Ireland skipper Robbie Keane.
The 20-year-old, who rose to prominence during Cardiff's ultimately unsuccessful run to the Carling Cup final, has also received a vote of confidence from Bluebirds team-mate Stephen McPhail.
"It's important young players of real quality like Joe come through," said Keane. "He has had an outstanding season and was one of the best players on the pitch when he scored against Liverpool in the Carling Cup final."
McPhail has had the best view of Mason's progress which has included 10 goals in his first Championship season.
"Joe's a terrific young player who has come on in leaps and bounds," said McPhail. "He seems to find space easily and is only going to get even better."
"He's ready for a first Republic of Ireland senior cap and I'd love to see him called up. I've been pushing his name back home and believe he has done enough to deserve a place in the squad."
Mason, whose mother hails from Mayo, believes that promotion to the Ireland senior squad is still some distance off and that Euro 2012 is "a long shot".
"That's a real long shot," he said. "The finals this summer are probably too early for me. Winning a senior cap is not something I am thinking about right now, but there are four Championship matches to go and then, hopefully, the play-offs.
"Who knows what is possible. My whole focus is on giving Cardiff City 100pc. If Ireland did call then that would be great, but all my thoughts right now are on Cardiff.
"I'm quietly ambitious and I'd like to think that if I work hard and keep improving then I can play Premier League football for the Bluebirds.
"But I won't get ahead of myself."