Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka has revealed that Jake Clarke-Salter has returned to training with the club, although Adam Clayton is yet to link back up with the side behind the scenes.
Clarke-Salter has yet to make an appearance for the Blues this season after returning to the club for a second loan spell from Chelsea in the summer transfer window.
However, it now seems as though the 23-year-old is closing in on challenging for a place in the side once action resumes after the international break.
Providing an update on Clarke-Salter, Karanka told The Birmingham Mail: “We have Jake training with us now which is important because he is another member on board.
“I can’t tell you that he impressed me because I already knew him. But he is going to be a good one for the future.”
Despite that, it seems there is no guarantee Clarke-Salter will walk straight back into the side, with Karanka going on to add: “He can’t forget that now Robbo and Harlee have been doing really well, it’s going to be tough for him to get the position and it’s a good challenge for Robbo and Harlee in the same way – and it’s the same, if they improve as individuals we will improve as a team.”
Clayton meanwhile, has missed the Blues last three games with injury, and it seems he is still further away from a return to action than Clarke-Salter.
Discussing the situation around Clayton, it seems 31-year-old’s recent injury record means Karanka is being cautious about re-introducing him to the side, with the Spaniard explaining: “He is not training with the team because I don’t want to take a risk with him. I think he had a problem in the same area of the leg last year or two years ago and he missed one or two months.
“So I don’t want to take that risk with him because we are in November – let’s see what’s happening in the following week and if he can train with the team.”
Birmingham are currently 17th in the Championship table, six points clear of the relegation zone, and are set to return to action after the international break when they face Coventry City on the 20th November.
It would be a big boost for Birmingham if they are to get Clarke-Salter back in the not too distant future.
The 23-year-old is a more than useful player, and his return to the side will give the club scope to rotate their lineup in a heavy schedule after the international break.
The situation with Clayton does seem slightly more frustrating for the Blues, but there is no point rushing him back too quickly, if it could risk doing further damage to the defender that leaves him stuck on the sidelines for even longer than anticipated.