Birmingham City manager Pep Clotet has suggested that Harlee Dean demonstrated his leadership qualities with his reaction to being left out of the starting line-up against Millwall on Saturday, before coming on and helping the Blues earn a point.
Clotet elected to stick with both Marc Roberts and Jake Clarke-Salter at the heart of the Blues defence for the visit of Millwall, with the pair having formed an effective partnership over the last few weeks, with Dean unavailable having picked up a three-match suspension.
However, just 26 minutes into the game against Millwall, Roberts was stretchered off the field after landing awkwardly after an aerial challenge with Matt Smith, and Dean came off the bench taking the captain’s armband and helping to keep the Blues relatively solid, as they earned a point through Clarke-Salter’s late effort.
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Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Clotet suggested that Dean reacted well to be left out of the starting line-up in their draw against Millwall on Saturday, and that he made an impression off the bench, saying: “He understood that Jake and Robbo were doing very well. He took it very well actually, proof of good captaincy. The fact he understood that, supported them and he knew that it was not an easy situation for me to decide.
“But he respected the fact I wanted to be fair with the players who have been playing and doing well for us.
“He was ready to wait for his chance – and after a few minutes he was in. That’s the game and he was in.”
As Clotet suggests the decision to leave Dean out of the starting line-up against Millwall would have been a very difficult one, but given the recent form of both Roberts and the ever improving Clarke-Salter the Birmingham caretaker manager elected to keep the pair together at the heart of the Blues’ defence.
Dean, though, showed his worth by coming from the bench and helping the Blues remain difficult to break down despite losing Roberts through injury, and the club captain’s presence alongside Clarke-Slater enables Clotet’s side to deal with most of what Millwall produced in the final third.
The defender is likely to have re-established his place back in the starting line-up now for the next few weeks, and it will be interesting to see whether he can form a partnership with Clarke-Salter over the coming weeks, which would then leave Clotet with another headache over when to bring Roberts back in upon his return to fitness.