PRE­MIER LEAGUE? I’LL STAY AT BRUM

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Matthew Joyce

BIRM­ING­HAM star­let Nathan Red­mond wants to stay at St An­drews – even though a trio of Pre­mier League clubs are show­ing an in­ter­est in him.

The Eng­land U19 winger scored a cred­itable five goals in 24 games in his de­but sea­son last year and has again im­pressed with some sparkling per­for­mances this time as the Blues have scram­bled to Cham­pi­onship safety.

But with Birm­ing­ham owner Car­son Ye­ung await­ing trial for money-laun­der­ing in his na­tive Hong Kong, the Blues are strug­gling fi­nan­cially and man­ager Lee Clark may need to sell.

West Brom, Ful­ham and Nor­wich have all ex­pressed an in­ter­est in 19-year-old Red­mond, and a bid of around £2m may be enough to force City’s hand.

How­ever, af­ter a promis­ing end to the sea­son, Red­mond wants to stick around and lead Birm­ing­ham’s bid to reach the Pre­mier League next sea­son. “The truth is, I’d love to stay here,” said Red­mond. “It’s not a ques­tion I like to shy away from – I’m happy here and I’d love to still be here next sea­son. Ob­vi­ously there’s a lot of spec­u­la­tion and the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion of the club pro­vokes ques­tions. There are a lot of things it boils down to that are out of my hands, but my choice is that I’d love to stay and help Birm­ing­ham get into the Pre­mier League.

“We’re a big club that has top flight ex­pe­ri­ence and we should be there any­way.To take them into the Pre­mier League and to play there for my home­town club would be spe­cial.

“We have big am­bi­tions so hope­fully we can get back to where we be­long.”

For Red­mond, part of the ap­peal has been play­ing in the first team with close mates and fel­low acad­emy grad­u­ates Mitch Han­cox and Cal­lum Reilly this sea­son. Jack But­land, the Eng­land goal­keeper who joined Stoke for £3.5m in Jan­uary be­fore be­ing loaned back, is an­other who came through the ranks.

“It’s been fan­tas­tic,” ad­mits Red­mond, who will be part of Peter Tay­lor’s Eng­land U20 squad for the World Cup in Turkey this sum­mer.

“Just be­fore we go out to play it’s a nice feel­ing know­ing you’re play­ing with peo­ple who you’ve grown up with. I’ve been with Mitch and Cal­lum since the U8s and U9s and it’s a great feel­ing to know some of us have made it.

“When we were younger they used to say that only three or four of us max would make it into pro­fes­sional football, so for three of us to play in a com­pet­i­tive fix­ture to­gether at this age is some­thing to trea­sure, and very rare in mod­ern football.

Risk

“The gaffer has been great for that. One game there was about nine teenagers in the team, which just shows the risk he’s will­ing to take with the play­ers we’ve got com­ing through the sys­tem.

“That faith from a man­ager is such a big thing for a young player and it gives us all a lot of con­fi­dence.”

The in­va­sion of young­sters has, how­ever, meant Red­mond is no longer the baby of the bunch that he was un­der Chris Hughton.

“Last year we had a lot more of an ex­pe­ri­enced team,” he ad­mits. “I’d just come in ev­ery now and then with lit­tle cameo ap­pear­ances and start in the cup and the Europa League.

“I didn’t feel any type of pres­sure was put on me. I just had the freedom to go out and play and ex­press my­self. But at the same time I was learn­ing my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and I think that’s stood me in good stead this year.

“I’m still learn­ing and there’s lots to im­prove – I haven’t played ev­ery game this year, which is what I wanted.

“But I’ve done well to­wards the end of the sea­son and I’m just go­ing to try and con­tinue that form through­out the sum­mer for Eng­land now.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

BLUES BROTH­ERS: Nathan Red­mond loves play­ing for Birm­ing­ham with his fel­low youth team­ers Jack But­land, Mitch Han­cox, Cal­lum Reilly (inset)

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