Several Birmingham City players’ contracts expire in the summer of 2015. Here is my verdict on who should stay and who should go out of these players.
Gray has grown into one of the hottest young prospects outside of the Premier League and was the subject of several bids from Championship high flyers Bournemouth in January. Another success from the Blues academy that has produced some exciting talent in the last couple of years. Gray has impressed Bluenoses this season with his excellent dribbling ability and his quick acceleration. However, he probably has played too many games this season and this has arguably been to the detriment of his development as the Blues squad lacks decent options on the left hand side.
It is vital to tie Gray down to a new deal so that we can keep the local starlet for a few more years whilst the club is rebuilt and that when the inevitable sale comes then the club can command a higher price for him. Getting this deal done is vital for the short and long term future of the club.
The injury plagued American has recently found himself in the Blues starting 11 after an injury to new signing Michael Morrison. Previously people have been unsure as to where Spector’s position is; manager Gary Rowett recognised this and simply asked the player himself where he is most comfortable playing to which the American replied that he had played a lot at centre back for West Ham in the Premier League.
Spector is a reliable player with years of experience in the top flight and the Championship. Therefore I would offer him a new one year contract and review it again next season as he is an excellent and versatile squad player whose experience will help the younger players.
Despite criticism from some supporters he has undoubtedly helped us gain a lot of points during his time at the club. He is an excellent shot stopper and often pulls off unbelievable saves. He makes the odd howler as every keeper does but he has certainly gained us more points than he has cost us. Rowett deliberately waited until after the January transfer window to begin new contract talks with the Irish keeper to see if there was any interest from the Premier League but as no offer was made for the Irishman the manager has recently offered him a new contract, whether he accepts it is another matter. However, Randolph has recently indicated that he would be happy to stay and I think most Blues fans would be happy for him to sign a new deal too.
The man from Gateshead is one of the hardest working players you will see on a football pitch, while hard work shouldn’t be something that marks a player out above others, in modern football it unfortunately does. Novak was Birmingham’s top goalscorer in the 2013/14 season despite being played on the left hand side. Unfortunately for him he will always be associated with former manager Lee Clark due to where he comes from and his previous connections to Clark at Huddersfield Town. However, Rowett clearly admires Novak as can be seen from him starting some recent games ahead of Wes Thomas. Novak’s bullish physique and goal scoring ability should earn him a new contract at St. Andrews which I would agree with.
Has there ever been a player at Birmingham that has divided opinion more than Zigic? I doubt it. I believe a lot of the criticism he receives is because of the ridiculous £60k p/w wages he was on up until the end of last season. However, it is not his fault and he would be foolish to turn down such money. When he re-signed for the club in December 2014 there were some groans from the fans but he is a cult hero at the club and his 6 ft 8″ height causes defenders to panic when he is amongst them, usually resulting in them fouling him although the decisions are rarely given due to the Serb’s physical stature. As much as I like Zigic there is a time when players have to move on and if he scores a couple of goals before the end of the season he will have done his job. I cannot see Zigic being handed a new contract and at the age of 34 I can see him retiring in Birmingham, where his family is settled, rather than journeying around various European Leagues.
Gunning was signed by previous manager Lee Clark after an impressive season for Dundee United in the Scottish Premier League. However, the Irishman’s first season at St. Andrews as been somewhat of a disaster. Sidelined for most of it with a knee injury so it has been impossible to judge the centre half. He is still only 24 so the one year option is contract should be taken up, allowing him to prove himself next season if he can stay injury free.
Club captain, passion personified. Initially arrived on a one month contract in September 2012 and has gone on to become a crucial figure at the club both on and off the pitch. His mentoring off the pitch is clearly a help to the younger players and he will make a great coach once he retires. I imagine he will be given a new one year deal in a player/coach role and then after that who knows… Either way, it is vital to have his experience around the club.
Signed due to former manager Lee Clark’s connection to Olly Lee’s father Rob, the former Newcastle player. However, last season he became a first team player and was a solid player in the centre of midfield with his passing more often than not finding it’s intended recipient. He’s currently on loan at League 2 side Plymouth Argyle where Blues manager Gary Rowett feels he can develop his game with a view to coming back next season. However, I imagine Lee will be let go at the end of the season in order to bring in a better quality player and I would agree with that decision.
Combative academy product Callum Reilly shows tremendous desire when he plays and has established himself as a very useful midfield player in the last two years. However, with David Davis, Stephen Gleeson and Robert Tesche currently ahead of him in the pecking order he has been allowed to join Rowett’s old club Burton Albion, who are chasing promotion to League 1 under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, on loan until the end of the season. Rowett has stated that his reason for sending the Bluenose midfielder out on loan was for him to get some minutes. I imagine that he will be offered a new contract at the end of the season as he is a decent squad player and I would once again agree with the decision.
The American youth international has had a difficult last couple of seasons which have been marred by injury and being farmed out on loan in order to regain match fitness. He found himself a regular at right back a couple of seasons ago and looked pretty solid. Defensively he is arguably the best right back at the club (Caddis never blocks crosses). However, going forward, Caddis is the much better option and Packwood is not going to get ahead of him. I think with the amount of defensive players at the club, recently limited by injury, we will see the American leave St. Andrews at the end of the season. Personally I think he has good potential which has been identified by U.S.A. National team boss Jurgen Klinnsman but for his career to progress he is probably best finding a new club.
Will forever be Birmingham’s back up goalkeeper. However, when Doyle has stepped in he has never let the side down. Birmingham fans have said he lacks ambition by not leaving the club and finding regular football elsewhere. However, it is important to remember that he has a disabled daughter and to start moving her around and away from the support she needs would not be a good idea. Some things are much more important than football. I imagine a new contract will be agreed and it would be good for Blues to keep hold of him.
Arrived with a reputation of scoring a lot of goals in Non-League with Mansfield Town which led to them getting promoted. He scored a few goals in his early Blues career but a severe knee injury has meant he has not had any playing time for nearly two years. I personally would offer him a one-year contract just to see if he can fully recover from his injury and become the goalscorer that his potential showed and then review it again at the end of the 2015/16 season.
The Blues youngster originally from Ghana secured himself a starting spot earlier this season before being dropped and has not regained his place since. He has apparently been scouted by a few Premier League clubs and clearly has good potential. Next season will be vitally important for him as he will need to kick on if he is to develop into the player that his potential shows. Should and probably will be kept at the club on a long term deal.
The left back has recently been sent out on loan to League 1 Gillingham. Has not had a look in at Blues, playing one game, a thrashing by Leicester last season. With Jonathan Grounds and Mitch Hancox ahead of him in the pecking order for the left back slot it is highly doubtful that Bell will remain at the club and to let him go elsewhere to further his career would be a good idea.
One of a few good young keepers to come through the Blues’ ranks in recent years. Currently the number 1 for the U21 side. Has done well on loan at Lincoln City in Non-League and I imagine he will be offered a new contract. Right decision.
The central midfielder has recently been recalled from Lincoln City where he had played alongside goalkeeper Nick Townsend. Rowett recalled him as he felt his development would be better served playing in Blues U21 games and training in and around the Birmingham first team. Rowett clearly sees Adams as a hot prospect for the future and no doubt will be offering him a new contract, clearly the right decision.