Jake Clarke-Salter made his first start for Birmingham City against Wigan on Tuesday night following a loan move from Premier League side Chelsea in the summer.
And, while his 83 minutes did not spur his team to a win, with Wigan claiming a marginal 1-0 victory, the 22-year-old did enough to impress his manager.
Pep Clotet handed the youngster a start, allowing him into the lineup after Marc Roberts was pulled out due to a hamstring issue. The coach would laud his loanee on the back of a solid performance, hailing his maturity and focus.
“He was very good, I think he played with a lot of maturity, he was very focused, he dealt very well with the physicality of the game and worked very well with Harlee as well,” Clotet said. “He also covered the line very well. I think on the ball he was very good as well so it was a very positive game for him.”
“I am very happy to get my first start, it’s been frustrating for me individually but I am very happy to play now and long may it continue,” Clarke-Salter added. “When you do get out there it’s about It’s about taking your chances and keeping the shirt, the main thing is we need to get the points as a team.
“I thought our back-line we limited them to hardly any chances we can look on the bright side of that but as I said we need to get end product now. Friday we need to make it right.”
Clotet reckons Roberts will return to full fitness ahead of Friday’s game against Middlesbrough and, given that he’s been the team’s best option at centre-back this term, he’s likely to take his place in the starting 11 right away. Clarke-Salter, though, showed enough to remain in the starting backline as he handled himself pretty well against a troublesome Kieffer Moore, as well as Joe Garner when he came on to replace him.
Bet365 has the Blues as the favourites for Friday’s game against Boro and are offering odds of 13/10 on a home win for Clotet’s side. A draw is at 23/10, a Birmingham win is at 21/10 and fans looking could also take advantage of football free bets at freebets.co.uk ahead of this one.
You could get odds of 19/20 on both teams scoring from William Hill, with Skybet offering 4/5 on the opposite alterative.
Birmingham are currently way down the Championship standings on 13 points at No.14. Paddy Power has 300/1 odds on them winning the league this season but Leeds United appear to be the favourites for divisional silverware at 11/10 with Betfair, who have Fulham at 4/1 and West Bromwich Albion at 6/1.
Meanwhile, Clarke-Salter’s versatility should serve him well under Clotet, who will also appreciate the fact that he’s left-footed. There is a lot of football to be played still this season and the youngster should be afforded plenty of chances. Who knows? He could establish himself as a regular starter in time.