Often Partisan

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.

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71 Responses to “Give Youth a Chance”

  • StevieW says:

    Now assuming we are safe. Then from now to the end of the season we should be starting to lay foundations for next season. Scouting, brainstorming the shape and way to play moving forward and who will be here and who will not.

    However given the uncertainty of the clubs affluence and whether LC will be here or not then none of this can be achieved.

    So yes give the boys a run in the first team at least then they can be in the mix for places come next season, or not as the case maybe when whoever decides to own and manages us.

  • sutton apex says:

    i am going to wast hills today and am looking forward more to watching the kids than the 1st team. The one bright spot this season is reilly and hancox’s emergence as genuine first team players. Lets hope there is another trevor francis amongst this current crop of youth

  • Paul Davis says:

    I noticed nobody ever mentions Akwasi Asante,whatever happened to him. Is he still injured? Seeing all these youngsters popping up really does give me hope for the future. We have seen it with other clubs where they have had excellent youth set ups ie West Ham,Crystal Palace as perfect examples.

    • Alex says:

      I was surprised he’s not mentioned in the article, But I saw last week that he is recovering from injury and nearly ready to start playing again. I hope to see him get a game or two before the season is out.

  • ChirsG says:

    Every player has to make their debut at some point & I think we should definately blood at least one of our young centrebacks before the end of the season, even if it were for the last 10-20 mins of a game just to give them a feel rather than a baptism of fire.

  • Big Al says:

    It seems like a very long time ago since we were in a dead rubber situation. It’s just not our style – this season will go the wire.

  • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

    What with our boo boys, antis and villa wannabees in the crowd ready to boo any mistake?

    I wouldn’t.

    • Agent McLeish says:

      Totally agree mate. It was only a week ago that some were slating Wes Thomas, now after scoring 2 goals he is a hero. How fickle some are. One thing is for certain, LC has no fear playing the youngsters so expect to see more in the future.

      • Staffordshire Blue Nose says:

        People are allowed to slate players you know. Although I have never booed a player, I think it is counter productive, best example was “The Horse” who got booed in his first season and then turned into a club legend, I defend the right of fans to do so, anybody see the Everton game at the weekend, Fellina got pelters and he is a great player.

    • Pele says:

      what a shining light of positivity you are!!

    • chas says:

      Is Paul the ‘Gabby Cabby’ in (almost) real life ?

    • Brumboi says:

      You beat me to making similar comment.

      The anti Clark brigade would have a field day if we lost games whilst introducing the youngsters.

      • RichardM says:

        What utter tripe – just because I don’t think Lee Clark is the right man for the job, why would I be unhappy to see Blues blood the youngsters???

        And by the way – Lee Clark has had no choice but to blood the youngsters – because he has been unlucky with injuries. If that were not the case – do you seriously think he would have even bothered?

        • mark says:

          IMO YES he would have, in his previous club he build a youthful and high tempo team, don,t let possibilities of injuries to players fool you that clark would not have played the young players, if they are good enough he would. These young players like Hancox and Reilly with his support are simplely getting better because they know the standards he has set, and it is up to them to raise their bar.

          • Blueboy 88 says:

            When is a rubber dead ?

            If the opposition are going for promotion, the play offs, or in a relegation battle is it fair to debut untried youngsters at the expense of first team regulars ?

            Boot on other foot ….?

        • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

          Ah so you admit he’s been unlucky with injuries. You might wanna reflect on that when you’re thinking of the next criticism you can level at him.

          Not only has he blooded young players he’s improved em to.

          KRO Lee

  • andy says:

    I think this is what Lee Clark is looking to do with Birmingham, build a young team, a team for the future and he is the man to do it. Lets hope, if the current regime are still in place, its not seen as an opportunity to sell off the young talent, as they did with Jack Butland, even though his sale seemingly kept the club afloat. Im looking forward to new investment or ownership and a complete rebuild of the squad by Clark.

    • Staffordshire Blue Nose says:

      I must admit that this is one of only two things I’ve been impressed about with LC is his managing of the younger players, apart from Redmond, perhpas he should get rid of his management team and bring in Richard Beale as his no 2?

  • Evesham blue says:

    LC has already started this process along time ago. Caddis was loaned with a view to getting him permanently. Young USA centre back kid looked very good before he broke his leg. More recently Reilly and Hancock. Plus lets not forget Butland (before we had to sell him) and Redmond who is still only young.More recently Thomas on loan tho older is the kind of player LC wants to build a team with. Hungry, energetic and powerful.

    We have also loaned young players with a point to prove who have potential. Although these belong to other clubs if we were to get promoted then signing them might be an option. I would sooner give a chance to our own home grown first however.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Paul Carter;, DO you really think that any true Bluenose, Would boo a youngster making his debut, ??.

    • bluenoseneil says:

      I will speak for Paul and say no, of course he doesn’t.

      BUT St Andrews does have a cross-section of fans who think with their mouths not their heads and could easily run any player into the ground given a chance.

      Lets hope they can’t afford a Season Ticket renewal or can learn to keep some of their opinions to themselves although I fear the latter is unlikely.

      Good luck to the kids, that’s what they got into football for and I for one would be delighted to watch a team built around under 25s with a few seasoned pros to keep the balance.

    • Agent McLeish says:

      Of course they would, not all of course but some are just born to moan and boo. See link for examples http://tinyurl.com/coykumq

  • Poppa999 says:

    It’s a funny league this season with everyone beating anyone. Barnsley are already on 38pts and the previous two seasons the cut off has been 40 and 42pts. That total is bound to be higher this term.

    • chris says:

      93-94 we went down with 51 points
      so i feel another 6 points needed to be sure, then start blooding couple of kids as subs if poss late in a game

  • DoctorD says:

    I wonder if Lee Clark feels more comfortable managing the youngsters. We know he’s probably not the best manager in the business, but I bet he finds it pretty tough managing the old guard and that the younger players are easier for him to handle. I bet they give him less lip and are more dutiful. You can just imagine Zigic, who’s been around the block a fair bit, metaphorically shaking his head all the time at Clark’s latest antics. So — to conclude — Lee is probably going to do much better with a completely young team. That’s my view.

    • Evesham blue says:

      Good point but not sure if this is entirely true. The old guard lack the pace and energy of the younger players but lack experience. Think you need the blend.

      In the case of Zig well he is picking up his salary so I guess he would be very happy regardless of LC

    • mark says:

      Not all bluenose’s agree with your comments regarding the manager…..

    • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:


      LC does in all likelihood get jip from some players – most managers probably do at some stage and at most clubs – but they cannot pretend that he’s not familiar with the higher echelons of the game and hasn’t got a fairly decent track record. The likes of Carr, Caldwell, Fahey, King etc., have played against/with him.

      But I do not think it is fair to say that he prefers working with younger players – what about Ambrose, Lovenkrands and Mullins??
      He signed them and didn’t have any reservations. I believe he has stated on several occasions that he wishes to play a “pressing,high-tempo” sort of style, and he believes that some of the old guard cannot play each and every game. I think he has a vision of what he wants and is doing his utmost to try and achieve it. Many have not agreed with his conduct regarding Zigic and Jervis (dropping the former and selling the latter), but he has also been full of absolute praise for some of our other players – Butland, Hancox, Reilly etc., and always bigs-up our club and fans (even the ones giving him terrible abuse).

      We can pretend as much as we want that he was desperate for a job and we were not desperate to get him, but this avoids the crux of the debate. He wanted to try and achieve with Blues, whereas others ran a mile. Surely the fella deserves a chance to try and make something??

      Even though he was not my choice for manager when CH left, I still want him to have the opportunity to try and manage unhindered of all the tosh that is going on with ownership/finances and the like. Let him try and build his own squad, get decent players in on decent fees, get a settled team and pattern and then review where we are.

      LC is still learning and this season will make him alot stronger and wiser to what is and is not required at our BCFC.

      • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

        Great post.

        FFS did people think he was gonna be the next Fergie or something?

        Can’t spend any dough, key injuries, zero support from the missing board.

        He’s done wonders and hasn’t cowed down to the boo boys.

        KRO Lee a mans man.

  • Evesham blue says:

    Don’t think blues would boo our own homegrown players tbh Thomas was from Bournemouth and I think there was certain amount of snobbery that loaning a league one player was not good enough without giving the kid a chance.

    Ps I was wasn’t one of them criticising

  • Grimlin says:

    This is a great idea, however, it’s worth noting that it’d be good to temper expectations a little. I feel like as soon as an academy player gets his chance, fans are always talking about him being the “next big thing” when it’s much more likely that either they won’t make it or they’ll go on to be an average squad player, which is more than fine.

    Just because youngsters are playing, doesn’t necessary mean they’re any good (case in point, our vile neighbours)

    • Evesham blue says:

      Don’t think LC plays youngsters in the first team unless he thinks they are good enough and have potential

      • Grimlin says:

        My point was aimed at people that get carried away thinking that any youngster that gets playing time is going to be a world-class star. Don’t debate that some of these players are good enough for our current position, but I don’t think they’re gonna fire us to european glory anytime soon.

  • dave mann says:

    if things dont get sorted out financily in the next few months we will have no choice
    but to play the majority of the first team with our youngsters, but i would not have a
    problem with that only that it would propably be another season in the championship
    strugling untill they come good. lets hope thers a buyer out there and we can get
    some quality in to go with the good young lads comming through and maybe push
    for promotion next season! KRO.

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    I’m coming round to thinking, given our current predicament, it’s no bad thing that we did not make the play-offs as was hoped and expected at the start of the season – I actually still think we have a squad that was capable of doing so, but that’s neither here nor there because it’s not good enough for the Premiership and we’d have most likely be among the favourites for relegation again.

    Staying one more season in the Championship just may be what we need to bring on some more of the youngsters. While it’s looking likely that we’ll release out of contract seniors in the summer, we may be able to pick up the odd out-of-contract old pro on lower salary to mentor some of our youngsters who will hopefully use next season as a springboard for promotion, and playing in the Premiership in the following season.

  • AussieBlue says:

    I’m all for it. Give the young ‘uns a go. This is the true Brummie spirit. The sinewy forearm smashing the ‘ammer down on metal. We’ve always been a bit different..vive la difference. Go for it lads.

  • Tony says:

    Cant imagine Clark giving Stevie Carr a rollocking somehow, Doc D has a point I think hes more comfortable with the kids

    • mark says:

      Why do you think that!!! Clark dealing with Zigic worked out, no player is bigger than bcfc even steven Carr . At Clark’s previous club he build his first team with a youthful team of players and your point is………

      • RichardM says:

        Sorry Mark, how did Clark dealing with Zigic “work out”?? We got thumped 4-0 against Watford, carried no bite whatsoever, and then Clark had to do a rather humiliating U-Turn and include him in the next game – where we also fired blanks v Sheff Weds. Rather poor peice of mana-management to do your dirty washing in public – and not the first time he’s done it either.

        • mark says:

          sorry RichardM trying not to pull the dirty up again, Zigic was dealt with simply because he did not pull his weight. Clark has every right to pull this player over the coals and hairdryer him, and it worked. I am aware that it might not sit with some fans but thats life.

  • Tony says:

    We aint all metal bashers Aussie,dont always fit the stereotypical image

  • The Flying Pig says:

    One of the key factors in our prospects next season is going to be which of the older, expensive players are retained to play alongside the kids? I’m not sure which are out of contract and some have options in our favour; I’m not sure which so apologies if some of these are not factually accurate!
    I would want to retain Murphy and Davies, but release Caldwell, Ibanez and Elliott. I suspect we will let Carr go, but I have mixed feelings about that. A big question will be Burke/King – ideally, I’d want to keep them but if we have to let them go surely we could get a fee, so do we gamble on taking up the option[s]? Perhaps PP can go and consult with Jezza Peace at the Baggies, he’s good at this sort of thing – he’s raped us on more than one occasion the tight git.
    Also, what happens if Jack’s not coming back? Perhaps CD will grasp his chance with Townsend as his back-up?
    I’d agree with trying to give a centre-half a chance before the season is out.

  • Asif ashiq says:

    The only way blues can become financially safe is to blood youngsters in. I am of opinion that local bluenoses/lads wear their hearts on the sleeves. Booing is part of football. It will stand them in good stead for the future. The youngsters have been a breath of fresh air. And seeing young first teamers should spur the others on. Thinking they can forge promising careers for themselves. A bit early at this moment in time. Maybe when we are mathmatically safe. Cant be worse than some if the senior pros

    • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

      ‘Booing is part of football. It will stand them in good stead for the future’

      The singular most stupid bullsh*t ever posted on here.

      Pissed meself reading that

  • mark says:

    I mentioned before we are team in working progress, and yes I would like to see further more of our young players getting the chance to play in the 1st team. I hope clark continue to be brave in making this happen. Young centre-half given a chance would assist in their development for the future.

  • AR says:

    What day in April is CY’s trial?

  • dave mann says:

    i think come next season with in my opinion how bad caldwells been and with ibanez
    frozen out we must get a better defender in weather hes one of our youngsters
    or not because defenciveley weve been shocking.KRO.

  • Paulo says:

    I personally would say that both the club and the young lads in the academy have nothing to lose. Come the last couple of games, it would not be a bad idea to get one or two of these lads starting. I say this, because compared to the up and down, show and no-show performances that our first team have provided for us, it may come to a point whereby if we are safe on points and could safely concede 3, then why not. The last game is Blackburn at home, and they are relatively mid-table, but having a good run in the FA cup, so it’s anyone’s guess! Look at our last league match with Reading last season!!
    If we can get the points now and it looks like we could be safe, then go for it …however, if it goes a bit south, then I can’t see the fans being appreciative of a good season on that particular day. So, would a youngster be prepared for a vicious atmosphere against LC and the team? That wouldn’t really be fair on them. It’s a bit of: damned of you do, damned if you don’t really, because fans will want a win.

  • dave mann says:

    i can only see clark playing the young lads in the last couple off games if were safe,
    because i think that it might get that far before we are mathematicly.
    we have 2 tough away games against boro and palace, and if we get nothing there
    we are back in the thick off it.KRO.

  • Swedish Bluenose says:

    Good thinking, Almajir. Except the ones you mention it could probably also be good to see Nick Townsend getting a chance as a stopper. We will have to prepare for Jack Butland’s exit and isn’t Colin Doyle on a one-year contract that will end after this season?

  • prewarblue says:

    While not wishing to rain on anybodys parade or opinion,,,,,of those players who are out of contract in the summer,,,,,has any thought been given to this,,,,just how many of the 19 who will be able to leave on “Bosman” transfers will be those younger players we would like to see given a chance,,,,,,while this comedy in China continues no one is sure to get a new contract offered,,,,,,some of those named as possible Blues stars of the future have yet to be offered their first “Pro” contract while others like “Hancox” are among the 19, on one year deals !!,,,,,and there has been no mention of any of those being offered new deals to keep them at the club

    • Marky mark says:

      You can rest easy, we will not lose any of these kids because we couldn’t offer them a contract, if we want them to stay the contract will be there, as for other clubs offering better contracts well that’s life there’s not a lot we can do about that

      That’s my thinking anyway

  • Iggy says:

    I had no idea you were a fan of obscure Ruts B-sides??

    Bruce & McLeish had shocking records when it came to picking Academy players and most Prem mgrs are the same – they can’t afford to invest the time developing them, because they’ll be fired if results dip. Too much of a risk. Clark’s hand might have been forced, but the development of the youngsters is possibly the only refreshing aspect of this season?


  • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

    I’m a fan of Ruts B-sides

    The best ones being – H-Eyes & Society

  • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:

    Still pissed I missed the Rollins tribute gigs with the remaining members

  • RichardM says:

    Brian McDermott has just been sacked by Reading,in my view a very poor and panic induced decision by the Reading board.

    It won’t happen – but who one here thinks McDermott’s a better manager than Clark and would swap them given the chance?

  • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:


  • Paul Carter want's shooting he says:


    Aint there anything you can do about the Villa filth on here.

    You must have sussed em by now.

    • almajir says:


      I’m more concerned with some of the sniping on here conducted by various posters, including yourself.

      Just because someone has a different opinion to you, it DOES NOT necessarily make them “villa fans”.

      You need to cool it. Seriously.

      • Blueboy88 says:

        You seemingly just don’t like any Blues fans Paul ….

        You drearily moan on about supporters not attending St Andrews , then post match comes on to OP to get stuck into the shortcomings of those who do ….

      • prewarblue says:

        AJ ,,,,I took your advice,,,,I dont respond or read those posts,,,,,do you honestly think they will respect your wish,s or opinion over this ?,,,,,there was reasonable exchange of differing views and opinion on your site recently for 3 whole days,,,,,,,and people commented in favour of this,,,,,,honest opinion not insult

  • mark says:

    Dan, blue fans are very passionate about their team what ever their opinions are..FANS have your say.. for or against, as long it comes down to supporting the team, and the manager at the end of the day.

    • Marky mark says:

      I believe everyone supports the team, but not everyone supports the Manager that’s the way it is.

      We may as well accept it, those that want LC out are not going to change there mind.

      But to all the anti LC brigade if you were to stop going on about it everytime you post a comment (like we don’t already know) there would be far less sniping.

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