BCFC: Desperately Seeking a Defender?

There are some things about Birmingham City you can take as absolutely nailed on to happen – because it’s Birmingham City. Face a team which has just been humbled by a non-league side in the FA Cup a few days ago? You can guarantee they’ll be on their game for when Blues come to town. Come out of the transfer window with only five senior defenders in the squad? You better believe you’ll lose more than half of them in less than two weeks.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

I think nearly every blues fan knew it was an asinine decision to not sign any more defensive cover in the window after letting Harlee Dean and Mitch Roberts go out on loan.

I don’t think anyone would have predicted February 8 for the day it all melted down, but here we are.

First it was George Friend, ruled out for a month with a calf problem.

Then Marc Roberts picked up a hamstring niggle which kept him out of the game against Bournemouth and could keep him out of the game with Luton on Saturday.

And if that wasn’t enough, Teden Mengi picked up a tight hamstring in the defeat on Wednesday night – the severity of that we won’t know for a few days.

With Blues on a horrific run of form, the last thing the club needs right now is a huge hole to fill at the back. It’s especially galling when the team actually look like they can score goals.

While Blues can’t loan a player (or indeed recall Dean or Mitch Roberts) they can sign free agents – and a quick squizz through various listings do show a few that are available that could do a job.

Except Lee Bowyer seems to have rained on that parade too. He’s quoted in the Birmingham Mail as saying:

“The problem you have got is there are people who are out there but some haven’t kicked a ball since February – as in last February – and others August.

“By the time we get them fit George Friend will be back so you are just – for me – wasting money.

“Unless you bring in someone that’s been released in January – and if you have been released in January, something is wrong. Unfortunately that’s where we are at, we will keep looking.”

I have to admit this does worry me a bit. It’s not like Blues haven’t brought in defensive cover on a short-term contract before to great success, is it?

For example, Stephen Carr had been retired for two months when he came to Blues on trial. It did take him a little while to get up to speed but he more than repaid that faith in the following three seasons.

Likewise, Paul Robinson came to the club as a free agent with the team down to two senior fit defenders, eventually playing 175 games for the club across six seasons.

Sure, we’ve signed some duds too – Papa Bouba Diop lasted two games before getting injured as an example – but even two games for a player while others are getting fit isn’t the worst outcome.

While I understand getting someone in and up to speed by Saturday might need the kind of miracle that hasn’t been seen since Jesus turned water into wine, I think it’s imperative that Bowyer and Craig Gardner come up with some kind of contingency plan.

It’s especially imperative for Gardner with a sold out Q&A session booked with fans in just over two weeks.

With a key fixture against relegation-threatened Reading just two days beforehand, failure to fix the situation could make for quite the spicy night.