Birmingham City boss Lee Clark is happy with the way his defensive line is looking for next season.
Clark has had a busy summer of recruitment and is confident that signings Jonathan Grounds, Gavin Gunning, Grant Hall and David Edgar can provide much-needed stability in that area.
Birmingham kept just seven clean sheets last season and Clark thinks Jonathan Grounds is the answer to the problem left side of defence encountered last season when David Murphy developed knee trouble.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail Clark said “Malcolm knows Jonathan really well,”
“He was reserve and youth team coach at Middlesbrough when Jonathan was there.”
“I borrowed him for Norwich City when I was assistant manager, and he played for us in the Championship.”
“That was both as a left-back and a left-sided centre-half, and he did brilliantly. He is very versatile in those roles.”
“Jonathan is six-foot two, a very solid defender and a terrific lad.”
“I think he has maybe lost his way a little bit from a couple of years ago.
“But it seems he settled down at Oldham, got his focus, and is ready to grasp this opportunity in the Championship with a big club like ourselves.
“We have had problems with both full-back roles, in fact, in terms of injuries and having to bring in players on a short-term basis.
“But I am delighted about Jonathan’s signing and there is now competition in the position.”
“We need more clean sheets, we need to concede far fewer goals than we did.
“But that comes from the whole team as well. That is not just about the back four and the goalkeeper.”
“Grant is a player I was looking at this time last year at Spurs,”
“On Tim Sherwood’s recommendation, he went to Swindon Town and had a really good season there.
“He can play either side – left-sided centre-half or on the right.
“He is very accomplished and when I have watched him play he has done well.
“That was backed up when I spoke to Mark Cooper, the Swindon manager.
“He said it would be a no-brainer to go for the lad.”
A big thing to point out is that Birmingham have secured Grant Hall on a season long loan with a no recall option, something which was important to Clark.
“I know people have been saying that ‘ahh, well we signed Kyle Bartley and Dan Burn on season-long loans’.
“But the difference with them was that there were clauses in the contracts that at certain periods in January they could be recalled.
“In most cases that is a requirement in long-term loans.
“But I stipulated my ideas to the board that if we do sign loan players then there can’t be any recalls at all in the deals.
“Grant is basically our player for the season, no matter what.
“And, as I said at the end of the season, we will be looking to have our own players.