COTTERILL RELIEF AS BLUES CASUALTY WARD EMPTIES
FACING Wolves is a daunting prospect for anyone this season, but at least Steve Cotterill can finally call on reinforcements. Since replacing Harry Redknapp in September, the Birmingham City boss has dealt with more injuries than an A&E ward on Saturday night. Of the Blues’ nine summer signings, five have missed hefty chunks of the campaign, - including former Blackburn skipper Jason Lowe, last year’s Championship-winning goalkeeper David Stockdale and £6.5m record signing Jota.
Another, ex-Luton striker Isaac Vassell, ruptured knee ligaments in October and is out for the season.
But, with Jota now fully fit, Stockdale back last week and the hamstrung Maxime Collin expected by mid-December, Cotterill finally has something approaching a full-strength squad.
“Jason Lowe is back in training,” he confirmed. “Stephen Gleeson and Craig Gardner have started training. We’re able to have a good look at the squad for the first time, really.
“Now it’s about getting sessions back into people, but we’re not about to take any risks. We’ve got to make sure we stay injuryfree now for as long as we possibly can because we’ve had enough injuries to last us a season.”
Another man ready to reboot his Blues career is Carl Jenkinson. The Arsenal loanee, restricted to just six games in the last 22 months following a serious knee injury, dislocated his shoulder 30 minutes into his Birmingham debut.
“Carl’s been back in training this week,” revealed Cotterill. “I don’t know what the time-span will be or if he’s ready now. We’ll assess him and make a decision.”
The struggling Blues have won just one of the last five and remain in relegation trouble, but Cotterill says last weekend’s 1-1 draw at high-flying Sheffield United shows progress has been made.
“When you don’t get the results, people on the outside don’t see the improvement,” he said. “But I have seen us grow week by week. There’s a lot of hard work that has been done to get us where we are now.”
FALSE START: Carl Jenkinson
BACK: David Stockdale