Birmingham will kick off the new season on Saturday against Reading and look set to start the season with only two natural centre backs in the squad. We take a look at a few potential targets:
It is a given that Michael Morrison will be the centre back of choice this season but there is much speculation as to who will partner him, and so far it looks likely to be the versatile Jonathan Spector. I am a fan of the American native however I have seen enough of him to know he is not quite tall enough or fast enough to play a whole season at the back, and not be caught out at some point. With this in mind, I turn my eye to potential candidates who can fill the gap next to Morrison.
My first target if I was Rowett would be Swansea’s talented youngster Kyle Bartley. The 24 year old stands at 6 foot 4 and has played at St Andrews previously in the royal blue under ex manager Lee Clark. During his time at blues Bartley impressed me greatly as he partnered Paul Robinson at the back as well as, later on, Dan Burn both of which he formed solid partnerships with using his pace to make up for the lack of mobility from his aforementioned partners.
Bartley consistently performed to the point where parent club Swansea recalled him to help them cover their injury crisis. Whilst at Birmingham the talented Englishman made 19 appearances in all competitions finding the back of the net on 5 occasions proving he is a threat in the box at set pieces. Bartley has not played a great deal of football so far in his career although he has featured in the Champions League back in 2009 for London club Arsenal in a defeat to Olympiacos. With experienced defender Ashley Williams ahead of him at the Welsh side, Bartley looks set to be kicking his heels on the bench unless he can secure a loan move. In short a fast powerful defender with experience at this level he should unquestionably be looked into in my opinion if Rowett feels he needs a defender.
The next option I would look into is another possible loan addition from the Premier League, highly regarded Everton youngster Brendan Galloway.
Aged 19 the youngster has already made a few senior appearances in his career having played 10 games for MK Dons and appearing twice for Everton. Despite this Galloway is looked upon favourably by the national team selectors, having played for England from under 17 level through to the under 19’s in 2014. Should blues be able to strike a deal for the youngster it would also reduce the burden on Jonathan Grounds and Galloway is capable of covering there, as well as doing a job in front of the defence should he be required to. Standing at 6 foot 1 Galloway has the physical presence to compete in the air with most strikers at set pieces.
Galloway has the potential to be a key player a national level later on in his career and blues would do well to sign him for the season. Rowett has a good record with youngsters as shown by the emergence of Demarai Gray last season and that could be the decisive factor for Everton if Birmingham were to move for Galloway.
Finally rounding off the defensive options is youngster Josh Martin. This is not technically a signing but more of a promotion for a talented youngster. The 16 year old is a product of the blues academy and was given his senior squad number in September 2014. Martin has not actually appeared for the first team however he has featured heavily for the under 18 squad so far during his time at St Andrews. Martin has a natural intelligence when he takes to the pitch as he reads the game as though he has been playing the game for much longer then he actually has.
Another strong aspect of the youngsters’ game is his ability to receive the ball and start moves from the back without looking unsettled by having the ball. With this in mind I can see martin potentially being pushed slightly forwards to become a holding midfield option at some point in his career, however for now it is vital he continues to develop his game. Josh Martin clearly has a bright future and we may just see that this season.
With these three just a small recommendation of what Rowett could do if he feels he needs defensive cover this season before the window closes, don’t expect any of these to materialise into reality. So these are three players I would look into if I was the manager but now it’s your turn in the comment section to recommend signings for Rowett to consider. As always thank you for reading and keep right on to Saturday when the season finally begins.
Note: This is an opinion article and the players mentioned above are in no way linked to the club at the time of writing. They are simply players that manager Gary Rowett could look into if he wants to strengthen the defence before the window closes.