As we come to the end of the season the voting opens up for Player of the Season and for this dramatically improved Birmingham side the names Clayton Donaldson, David Davis and Andrew Shinnie will spring to mind.
However I would like to pay tribute to a player who has gone completely under the radar this season and sometimes even gets stick. That man is Jonathan Grounds.
Signed from League 1 Oldham Athletic last season, a left back who can also play centre half, I’ve heard various people say that he is the weak link of the Birmingham City team. I couldn’t disagree more.
While he is not particularly adventurous like young Mitch Hancox (who Grounds has kept out of the team this season) he is very solid and has kept some of the best right midfielders in the division at bay. Hopefully manager Gary Rowett can work with Grounds on his forward movement in time for next season as the manager looks to improve his sides potency next season. His goal against West Brom in the FA Cup shows he does have the intelligence to get into goalscoring positions in open play.
A further point to mention is that on the left hand side this season, Grounds has had young Demarai Gray playing in front of him. Although he is undoubtedly a talent going forward, Gray is not the best when it comes to defending (although this is improving) therefore Grounds has had to repel both right wingers and full backs on his own this season and has coped admirably.
Gray has also been allowed to flourish by the solidity of Grounds as the young winger knows that when he loses the ball he has Grounds to back him up.
Additionally, Grounds adds much needed height to what is a fairly small team and, as we previously had with Liam Ridgewell, means we have more height on corners. As a full back he often goes unnoticed by opposition defenders at set pieces and this is shown by the amount of chances he has had from corners this season, he will be disappointed that he has only managed to convert one of those chances.
Grounds is clearly a solid and reliable defender hence why he has always played when fit. He rarely drops below a 6/10 every week and I can see Grounds being a permanent fixture at left back from a couple more years yet. He is definitely my unsung hero of the season.