Often Partisan

The Rise of Will Packwood

Whilst the Blues season so far hasn’t been one to shout about, there have been some pleasing cameos from some of the younger prospects. 19-year-old Will Packwood has come of age this year in a Blues shirt, making his debut in the League Cup match against Barnet and his league debut the Saturday after against Charlton. It’s been a meteoric rise for the young American and one has to wonder how much further he can go this season.

Will is an instantly recognisable sight on the pitch; a tall, rangy player with a mop of curly black hair and a rather stylish range of passing. I’ve seen Packwood play a few times for the reserves in the senior cup in his more preferred position of defensive midfield and I was always struck by how calm and assured he looked. However, with all due respect it’s a huge leap going from playing the likes of Leamington in the Birmingham Senior Cup to playing Championship football at St Andrews and like with every young player I did wonder if the teenage American would make the step up.

However, it appears his elevation to the fringes of the first team squad have been richly deserved; against Borussia Monchengladbach out in Munich in pre-season Packwood looked like he fit into the team; along with fellow youngsters Akwasi Asante, Jack Deaman and Mitch Hancox he acquitted himself well and having seen him play a couple more times in the warm up games I though he had maybe done enough to push himself into contention for a place on the bench at least – especially when his versatility was taken into account and I’m chuffed (and egotistical enough) to say I tipped him as the youngster to break through this season in my pre-season preview for the Guardian.

It’s not all been smooth for Packwood; right back isn’t his natural position and he’s had to do a lot of adapting. At times he’s looked a bit raw and his positioning has been a bit suspect but he has kept trying and kept working hard and I think he’s now at the point where the fans at least would readily see him slotted in at full back or centre half to cover injuries to the senior players in Blues’ rather stretched defence. It’s also brought him into the focus of the media with the New York Times publishing this feature on him back in August and the Mercury taking a look at him last Sunday.

Will is currently in Spain with the USA u20s team playing in an international tournament called the Marbella Cup, and will face off against fellow Blues Academy graduate Fraser Kerr this afternoon when the States take on Scotland. America lost their first game of the tournament 2-1 to Canada on Wednesday with Packwood playing ninety minutes at centre-half. I’m almost torn in that whilst I hope he plays well for the States I don’t want him to impress u20s coach Tab Ramos too much because I’m not a fan of players jetting off all around the world all season to take part in tournaments – particularly when I think he may be better served being on the training pitches at Wast Hills building his professional career with the first team.

With 36 league games left to go this season I wouldn’t be surprised to see Will add to his tally of four appearances and hopefully have his contract (which runs out at the end of the year) extended further. It’s been a while since we’ve had so many players coming through the ranks and I hope that Will can continue to spearhead the resurgence of youth in the Blues side.

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15 Responses to “The Rise of Will Packwood”

  • Bluebird says:

    Terry Westley and his Team did a great job for Blues –
    I don’t know the reasons why he and Blues parted but it has been a tremendous loss to us –
    This is the first time since the days of Francis, the Latchfords, Kenny Burns, Joe Gallagher, et al that Blues have had a crop of young players that can be a major part of our future…

  • sam says:

    What about sturridge, yates, peer, clarkson et al

  • Kimberley Blue says:

    Saw Packwood play a couple of years ago for v Burton in pre season and looked good then
    Wish him well with his future for us and at international level

  • skareggae72 says:

    I guess one of the positives of having a miserable season(so far)is that youth is often given a chance,and should the worst happen this season and we get relegated,it is highly likely that these youth prospects will be 1st teamers next season,as everybody else clears off,or are sold due to excessive wages.

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    Al I’m not so optimistic about Packwook, or any other youngster, playing that much. LC is reluctant to give youngsters a chance, much preferring older players. I think Redmond has gone backwards this season, and in hindsight I think if Mutch was about 23/24, LC would have probably kept him. With all the injuries that have hit the squad I would have expected him to give the youngsters more of a chance. But no, he’s signs people like Diop and Robinson instead. Nothing against these players, but if youngsters are not asked to kick on to the next level when opportunity knocks through injury to senior players, when can they do it.

    LC’s reason, similar to McLeish, is that it’s a tough league to place this responsibility on youngsters. Funnily I don’t hear people like Moyes saying so at Everton in the Premier. I remember many years ago, Jimmy Calderwood slipped in the changing room and injured himself before kick off, and had to be replaced by a teenager called Mark Dennis who played a blinder at left back and Calderwood became second choice after that. Now it does not matter how well a youngster plays when he gets the odd chance, the moment a senior player is back, it’s off to the reserves for the kid. Where’s the incentive for the kid, or even for the senior as he knows his place is not under threat.

    I hope LC can become a bit for adventurous with his selections and style of play. Safety first with old legs is not good for the team now and in long term development of our promising kids.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Kro,Croyden;, Athoughtful and well presented view, mate,!!!!!!!!!!!.

    • markg says:

      Are you sure Lee Clark doesn’t give the youngsters a chance Butland, Packwood, Redmond, Hancock,and Asante have all been in the squad i don’t think Redmond has gone backwards and i was at the match when Dennis made is début and he had a mare although he went on to become the best left back i have ever seen

  • steve-0 says:

    Sturridge, Yates, Peer and Clarkson?

    What did they achieve exactly? Butland, Redmond will be far more successful player than the likes of Dean Peer and Simon Sturridge and probably already are.

    • oldburyblue says:

      Peer and Clarkson had their limitations but 1 thing about them was they always gave 100% for the team. Peer in particular never hid, always making himself available for a pass to help a colleague…unlike some of the present squad who pass the ball then “snooker” themselves by hiding behind an opposition player to ensure they don’t get the ball back.

      As for Sturridge and Yates. in my opinion they were flogged to death in our previous dark days. Had they been used sensibly and not burnt out at a too early stage I am sure they would have enjoyed more succesful careers.

  • AR says:

    Was Jimmy Calderwood a left full-back? I thought he was a right-sided midfielder.

    • KeeprightCroydON says:

      I think your’re right about Calderwood, rmf was his natural position. Incredibly right footed player. So in fairness to him, he was played out of position at left back at the time, probably to help the team out and because there were better midfielders in the club than him. I recall he was switched to r back after Dennis came on the scene and did not fare too well there. I recall a game when we were 2-0 up at h/t to Fulham. Their r winger, Peter Marinello was in Dennis’s pocket and did not get a look in all half. Second half he switched wings, ripped poor Calderwood to shreds and they won 3-2 which Marinello creating all three goals.

      I see lots of names of decent players who came through the ranks at that time, but Dennis does not seem to get a mention. Yes he was a bit of a head case – too many bookings mainly for dissent (lippy little sod), and was unlucky with injuries, but an excellent defender and maurading wing half. Loved watching him.

  • FrancisHattonLatchford says:

    Jimmy Calderwood was a midfielder who filled in at full back occasionally.

  • Bcfc1955 says:

    I would agree that Packwood is the best of the bunch trying to break through

    In the pre season friendly at Shrewsbury he played alongside Curtis at the back and I thought they looked a good pairing

    I would like to see him given a run in the team now in this role

    If in time he turns into the ball winning midfielder all well and good but I think that role is beyond him at present

    Coming into the central defence in all honesty it would not take much to improve on the pairings that have been operating in this role so far this season

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Packwood has impressed me. Clark needs to play him in midfield though as he can tackle, head and pass the ball better than any of the central midfielders used this season. I would have no hesitation thrown in Deaman at RB or Hancox at LW. I don’t think Mitch is quite disciplined enough for LB but he is probably better than any of the senior players we’ve played at LW.


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