AS THE season draws to a close, the talk of new contracts for players grows louder. One position that Gary Rowett has a selection quandary is that of centre half as, although Blues have a plethora of them at the moment, there are decisions to be made on who is retained in the coming months.
Birmingham City have six senior centre backs – Michael Morrison, Paul Robinson, David Edgar, Gavin Gunning, Rob Kiernan and Will Packwood – along with two further players who are easily capable of playing in that position – Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Grounds.
Of those eight players, only three of them are in contract next season – Morrison, Edgar and Grounds – and of those three only one (Morrison) is actually likely to play centre back at Blues next term.
With both James Fry and Nat Kelly being told that neither will be offered a new deal, it means there is the very real prospect of a very different set of defenders wearing the Royal Blue next season.
Although it is true you should never say never, I don’t think we’ll ever see David Edgar in a Blues shirt again – at least not while Rowett is manager. Rowett seemed very eager to push the Canadian defender out of the door and judging from the noises within the club it seems Edgar is very much persona non grata where Rowett is concerned.
Likewise, I don’t believe either Will Packwood or Jonathan Spector have done enough to convince Rowett they are worthy of new deals – and with Spector being the highest paid permanent player the club have I can’t see that situation continuing – either we won’t have the money to splash out to continue that deal or we’ll have new owners and we’ll be able to afford better.
Gavin Gunning has been unfortunate with injury and now he has returned in the Development Squad Rowett will have to decide if the Irishman is worth another chance. As much as I think he has got something to offer – and he is the right sort of age – I don’t think it will happen purely because of the continued injury issues he has suffered.
This leaves Paul Robinson and Rob Kiernan. Kiernan is under contract at Wigan Athletic for some time and, with Malky Mackay now gone, may be able to make his way back into the Wigan side. However, with relegation to League One now looking likely for the Latics, I would think Kiernan may want to remain at the Championship level and it comes down to an issue of money. If we have it, I’d like to see us buy Kiernan as I think he’s good enough for us now and going forward could improve further should we be able to push on.
Robinson on the other hand at 36 looks old and past it – and as his outing at Bournemouth showed he cannot keep up with the quicker forwards in the division. As much as I’ve seen Robbo contribute a lot to the cause, I can’t see his worth as a player and, although I know this might be controversial, I don’t think he would add much as a coach either.
Blues have a good coaching set-up at the moment and I’m not sure if we have the room for him and, like Spector, if we have money to splash out I’m sure we could afford better.
I have no doubt Rowett will be looking at players to bring into Blues this summer and I hope he’s given the tools to do his shopping relatively quickly. Takeover or not, Blues need to have a squad ready to go for the start of the new season and, with so many changes in such a key position, they will need time to gel.