Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Millwall on Saturday and centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter once again impressed for the Blues.
The defender, who is on-loan from Chelsea, has always been highly-rated and has represented England at various youth levels but previous loan spells away from Stamford Bridge haven’t been too successful.
And, it appeared as though this one could go a similar way, with the 22-year-old struggling to get in at Birmingham for much of the eary part of the campaign due to the form of Harlee Dean and Marc Roberts.
However, a suspension to the former gave Clarke-Salter a three-game run in the team and even though Blues didn’t pick up positive results in that period, he stood out.
So much so, boss Pep Clotet kept him in the team for the game against Millwall and as our graphic shows, Clarke-Salter responded with another good showing.
Coming up against the Lions is always a tough task, as they are direct in the way they play, physically tough and look to make things difficult.
That’s exactly what they did on Saturday and the defender didn’t always have things his own way. His 65% aerial duel success rate could be better, as could the number of clearances and interceptions he made.
Having said that, it’s not like Millwall were attacking non-stop, so it can be hard for a defender to standout when they don’t have a lot to do and he did reasonably well with most things that came his way.
But, what was extremely impressive about the left-sided player is that he didn’t hide away. He continued to battle after his defensive partner was taken off and was very good in possession which is a positive aspect of his game.
Such an attribute is crucial to the way that Clotet wants to play and it was part of the reason as to why Blues controlled more of the game because he helped them start attacks.
Of course, he then made a telling contribution in the game, scoring the equaliser with a brave, powerful header that ensured Blues didn’t suffer back-to-back defeats at St. Andrew’s.
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By doing that, Clarke-Salter has probably made himself the number one centre-back for Birmingham right now and he deserves so much credit for that as it can be mentally very challenging for a young player, at a club he doesn’t know, when they aren’t playing.
It’s now down to him to build on that moving forward but he is starting to show why he is the latest exciting youngster to come through the renowned Chelsea academy.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.