BLUES manager Gary Rowett has some tough decisions to make as the season draws to a close over which players he wants to keep and who he wants to move on.
Not least amongst those will be his attacking options – Blues currently have no less than six first team strikers on the books – which seems excessive for a team that frequently plays only one striker on matchdays.
Clayton Donaldson would appear to be the most secure striker in the team. Top scorer with 12 league goals, the former Brentford man is the first choice for Rowett up front. Donaldson may not have the finesse of some strikers that have worn the Royal Blue in past seasons, but he has been a willing worker which will have gone down well with Rowett.
Wes Thomas, on the other hand, I think could be out of the door. Although he has six goals at a better goals to minutes ratio than Donaldson, the former Rotherham man has not been able to get into the team for any length of time. His petulant sending off against Cardiff City will have massively gone against him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sold.
Nikola Zigic hasn’t been the talismanic force that he was the first time around and has featured solely as a substitute in the league under Rowett. Although he has given Blues an aerial presence, his age and injury record massively go against him and I fully expect him to be released for a second time this summer.
I think Lee Novak’s versatility and hard-working ethic will keep him in the squad this summer. Although he cannot play the lone role up front at all, he can play on the left or as a second striker and thus he offers another facet to Blues’ play – something Rowett values highly. That being said, I think if Blues can compete and bring in someone of real quality I think the former Huddersfield man will go too.
I feel sorry for Matt Green as it’s just not worked out for him thanks to the horrendous injury he suffered. Unfortunately there is no room for sentimentality in football and I think he will be released in the summer to seek his fortune elsewhere. He could have been a good capture for us but it just wasn’t to be.
Denny Johnstone is the young gun among the strikers and I think he will be kept as he is still developing. He’s not quite the standout youth player I was expecting when we grabbed him from Celtic, but he is still learning and as such as a fourth choice striker on not very much he should be kept and nurtured further.
The sad thing is the lack of real quality coming through up front from the development squad and the U18s. There have been some hard-working players but none of them have looked like they can push on in the same way Dimmi Gray, Reece Brown and Nathan Redmond did.
While the capture of a 20-goal-a-season striker would be immense next season, my bigger hope is we can unearth some striking talent of our own – something we’ve not done since the emergence of Andrew Johnson in the late 90s.