- Birmingham City
- Current Squad
- Development Squad
- Out on Loan
- Former Players
- The Board
- Chinese Connections
- Appearance Data
- Website Information
- Media Mentions
- Contact Me
Give Youth a Chance
With nine games left of the Championship season, Blues sit in fourteenth place seven points clear of the drop zone on forty-six points. Whilst relegation is still easily possible the hope would now be that Blues will be safe in the Championship for the season and can start looking to next season.
I was intrigued by a question that came up in Colin Tattum’s webchat last week where a Blues fan asked if Lee Clark would consider bringing in more kids to the first team should Blues find themselves mathematically safe with games to go. Unlike the Premier League, the Championship has no merit payments based on position and thus pride is the only thing affected by finishing anywhere between 7th and 21st – for the middle of the table the last few games of the season can quite easily become effectively dead rubbers.
There is also the thought that Blues have got a lot of players out of contract at the end of the season; turnover will definitely drop by £8million due to the reduction in parachute payment in our 3rd season in the Championship and assuming the club isn’t bought by someone with billions of pounds to throw at the club it will have to be run on some semblance of a tighter budget next season. Therefore one would logically conclude that some of the older players who are in the upper end of the payscale might find that their contracts aren’t renewed at the end of the season as the club looks to bring in younger, cheaper talent.
The logical progression would be that if Blues did find themselves in a dead rubber situation, there may be the opportunity to give younger players on the fringe a run out to see how they can perform in the first team. I’m not advocating a wholesale change to the line up so that Blues field a youth side; rather a more organic change where maybe one or two of the brighter prospects are given a chance in the starting lineup to see how they cope alongside seasoned pros. An example might be giving James Fry, Jack Deaman or Emmitt Delfouneso a debut at centre-back over Steven Caldwell or Pablo Ibanez, giving them a chance to play in the first team alongside a senior pro in Curtis Davies and potentially Paul Robinson. Alternatively Blues could give a run to someone like Josh Hawker, Eddy Gnahore or maybe even Liam Truslove in the middle of the park rather than Wade Elliott, Jonathan Spector or Keith Fahey, pairing them up with a senior pro in the middle and seeing if they sink or swim.
Of course, it could quite easily backfire – there is always the possibility that young player could end up like a rabbit in headlights and suffer horribly on their debut but until they make it, we will never know. The optimist in me would like to think that there would be at the minimum a little benefit for the youngster in that they get the feel of what it’s like to be a first teamer at minimum; at best they could show like Callum Reilly has that they can actually do a job in the team and it might be one fewer player to replace in the summer.
This season has been the first time in years where I have watched the reserves and academy and felt genuinely enthused by lots of players within the teams. People like Richard Beale, Steve Spooner and Kristjaan Speakman deserve a lot of credit as the academy is starting to produce the homegrown heroes many fans have wanted for a long time. The one bright spot for me this season has been the emergence of young players like Mitch Hancox and Callum Reilly and seeing them progress from pure raw teenagers into more polished players with every performance. It would be good if we could continue that theme as the season closes by blooding one or two more.