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Birmingham City target rated as Pep Clotet sends message to forward


Simply the best

Birmingham City ’s decision to give Josh McEachran a trial has been well-received by most people with the club’s interests at heart.

Released by Brentford at the end of last season – and linked with moves to Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday – the 26-year-old has been training with Blues during the international break .

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Harlee Dean, a former team-mate at Griffin Park, has had the benefit of playing with and against the talented midfielder – and would love a St Andrew’s reunion.

“I think he is probably the best player I have ever played with technically,” Dean told BirminghamLive.

“You don’t play for Chelsea at 17 in the Champions League under Carlo Ancelotti and not be a good player on the ball.

“He’s the best player I have played with, he can see passes, he can break three lines with a pass, he can take it anywhere and give it to anyone.”

Pep’s message

Pep Clotet has saluted Jude Bellingham after the Birmingham City youngster’s month just got even better.

Fresh from becoming the youngest goal-scorer in Blues history with the winner against Stoke City before the international break, Bellingham has been making waves while on England duty.

Captaining the Young Lions to glory in the under-17s Skyrenka Cup in Poland, the 16-year-old scored in matches against Finland and Austria before leading his country to a penalty shoot-out victory over the hosts on Tuesday, after the game ended 2-2.

Bellingham was also named the Player of the Tournament for his brilliant contribution to England’s triumph.

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Clotet, who gave the talented teen his debut in the Carabao Cup against Portsmouth in August, took to Twitter to say: “Many congratulations!

“Great to see our very own @BellinghamJude flying the @BCFC flag & doing such a brilliant job as captain. Keep up the hard work!”

Line-up for Charlton predicted

Birmingham City resume their Championship campaign at The Valley on Saturday where they take on a Charlton Athletic side managed by Lee Bowyer.

The former Blues midfielder – and Carling Cup winner – has done an outstanding work in unstable circumstances with the Addicks, steering them out of League One and to an unbeaten start to the season.

As for Blues, they’ve got ten points on the board but – away from home particularly – are yet to produce the kind of performances everyone is hoping to see.

They arrive in South London on the back of consecutive 3-0 defeats on the road and looking to take a step forward on what is a work in progress.

So which team should they pick to improve that record? Our writers have their say.

Shane Ireland

BLUES (4-1-2-1-2): Camp; Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen; Sunjic; Maghoma, Gardner; Crowley; Jutkiewicz, Gimenez

After plenty of tinkering, it looks as if a back four is the best approach for Blues defensively.

It ensures that the best defenders are on the pitch in their best positions but there is still a huge question mark about how much pressure they are coming under when away from home.

Picking a midfield with the right balance is a challenge – but Crowley must be in it because he’s played himself into a starting role.

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This one is essentially a diamond with Crowley at the tip, Maghoma and Gardner either side and Sunjic at the base.

It means Colin will need to get forward to help Gardner down the right-flank but we know how dangerous he can be when doing that.

Playing two up-front leaves only one pairing – Jutkiewicz and Gimenez. I’d really like to see the latter look to stretch the opposition defenders with more urgency when Blues have the ball.

We all know what’s going to happen when Jutkiewicz peels off to the back post but there’s scope for Gimenez to mix it up a bit more.

Bowyer memories

Birmingham City will this weekend come face to face with Lee Bowyer for the first time since he left the club in 2011.

In his playing days a rampaging, goal-scoring embodiment of energy and determination he is fondly remembered for his part in winning the Carling Cup.

As a manager he has taken over at Charlton Athletic and steered them out of League One and to an unbeaten start in the Championship.

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Blues' Lee Bowyer celebrating with the Carling Cup in 2011

His current and his former clubs meet at The Valley on Saturday with many Blues fans looking forward to seeing a man about whom some initially harboured doubts.

Doubts which were more than dispelled over 94 appearances, 12 goals and one very, very special afternoon.

This is how Blues fans remember Bowyer.

@bluericard0: Absolute hero

@R15Wilson: Loved him

@lowe1875: Simply brilliant.

@JaymieThompson1: Remember his last gasp equaliser against Cardiff! Cardiff fans were p*****!

Heskey’s struggles

Former Birmingham City and England striker Emile Heskey has opened up on his struggles with mental health.

Heskey, now 41, retired in 2016 having scored over 150 goals in a 22-year senior career which was spent almost entirely in the Premier League.

He joined Blues from Liverpool in 2004 for an initial £3.5 million, potentially rising to £6.25 million, scoring 16 goals in two-year spell which ended with relegation to the Championship.

Before that, Heskey had left his hometown club of Leicester City to sign for Liverpool at the turn of the millennium, becoming the Reds’ record signing at the time for £11m.

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He was seen as one of England’s brightest prospects and went on to become was part of the Liverpool side who completed the 2001 Treble, lifting the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

But Heskey has revealed he struggled to adapt to life at Anfield, becoming homesick after moving away.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said: “It lasted six months.

“I had to grow up very quickly because I had kids, I had a girlfriend. I literally laid on the floor and started crying. I was like, ‘What have I done? I don’t know if I have done the right thing’.

“But the weirdest thing was I’d go to training [and] I would be all right.

“Then like a drop of a hat I found a barber, I found friends, a routine. Yes, it was a tough time but it was weird, I was silly and looking back you think, ‘Why didn’t you just go and sit with mates?’”

 



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