PREMIER LEAGUE? I’LL STAY AT BRUM
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.
“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.”
BLUES BROTHERS: Nathan Redmond loves playing for Birmingham with his fellow youth teamers Jack Butland, Mitch Hancox, Callum Reilly (inset)