Welcome to BirminghamLive’s coverage of all things blues Wednesday February 16.
Ian Holloway has praised Lee Bowyer for letting go of the past and bringing Lyle Taylor to Birmingham City.
The striker has scored three times in four games since his loan from Nottingham Forest.
And while there was initial skepticism about the transfer, Taylor produced both in terms of performance and as the clinical finisher the team needed.
Taylor was under consideration this summer before the Blues signed Troy Deeney – but Bowyer wanted a January reunion once Chuks Aneke was sold to Charlton Athletic.
The Blues head coach worked with Taylor for two seasons at The Valley – before the striker stepped down from the rest of the pandemic-halted 2019/2020 campaign.
The Addicks eventually fell, but Bowyer always viewed choosing Taylor as a business decision and always spoke highly of him in public.
All of this impressed Holloway. “He gets along very well with Lee,” said the former QPR manager EFL in search.
“It ended badly at Charlton because his contract was up and he wanted to move.
“But great management, brought him in and he was involved in four goals, he scored three and scored one.”
League 1 XI
With an interest in James Hill and Siriki Dembele, Birmingham City seem to have realized the potential available in League One.
The Blues made three offers for Hill, before the centre-back swapped Fleetwood for Bournemouth and a late effort to sign Dembele from Peterborough.
The striker also had the Cherries at heart and he was also involved in Scott Parker’s transfer window sweep in January.
Blues have dipped into the third tier a few times over the summer, with Jordan Graham promising since moving from Gillingham, although Chuks Aneke only lasted a few months before returning to Charlton.
It’s likely that the Blues will continue to scour the division for the best young signings, so we’ve rounded up and XI who could come through their scouting offices.
GK Michael Cooper (Plymouth Argyle)
The 22-year-old was Young Player of the Season last season and went from there to really cement his place as Argyle’s first-choice.
While he was somewhat of a secret before the draw, his FA Cup exploits at Chelsea will not have escaped anyone’s notice. Great shot stopper and good with his feet.
The rest here
It’s all good, Birmingham City fans could see Tahith Chong in the coming weeks.
The Manchester United loanee has returned to training with the Blues, the latest stage in his recovery from thigh surgery.
Lee Bowyer believes it will be a few weeks before Chong is ready to play Championship football, but optimism is growing that he can appear on the bench at Reading on Tuesday February 22.
Otherwise, he could return to more familiar ground, against Huddersfield four days later.
Make no mistake, Chong’s loss was hugely debilitating for the Blues, setting back Bowyer’s attempts to build a more attractive offensive lineup by four months.
His return is a huge boost – but it will also come with complications. Pleasant but still complicated.
Saturday saw the return of the 3-4-1-2 system, with Juninho Bacuna in the No.10 role – a role which was also filled by Onel Hernandez.
Taylor Richards, who played attacking midfielder at Doncaster Rovers for most of last season, is also close to fitness and suddenly with no options at No 10 Bowyer faces four – a veritable embarrassment of wealth.
It will be interesting to see if the head coach ever tries to put them all on the same side.
Where should Tahith Chong play when he returns from injury? Express yourself here
Stoke City could be without talismanic midfielder Nick Powell when Birmingham City visit this weekend.
The 27-year-old limped off Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest with a hamstring injury.
Powell has started just ten league games this season and only recently returned after three months on the sidelines with a cracked fibula.
Speaking to City Ground Stoke boss Michael O’Neill said: “He’s been playing a lot of minutes in a short time after coming back from injury and I hope it’s not too serious.”
Defender Harry Souttar is sidelined until the summer and Tyrese Campbell, who hit his knee against Swansea last Tuesday, is being handled with caution.
O’Neill added: “We have to slowly get him back into training so we don’t have a situation where we need another procedure. He’s being handled very, very carefully.
“The good thing is that he feels good, the medical team is relatively positive about it as best they can without raising too many expectations.”