Championship side Birmingham City have sent 20-year-old midfielder Ryan Stirk to League Two side Mansfield Town on a season-long loan, the club has just announced.
Stirk was one of multiple given a chance against Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers in the last two games of the 2020/21 campaign after the Blues secured their survival – and started in both as he made the step up to the senior squad.
This was a much-deserved reward for the midfielder who has proven to be a vital part of the Under-23s team and on his current development trajectory, could potentially be a regular starter at St Andrew’s in the future.
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For now though, he will increase his senior minutes not in the Championship, but with four-tier outfit Mansfield Town who have improved vastly under Nigel Clough since the manager came in last November.
At that point, the Stags had failed to win any of their opening 11 league games in the last campaign and because of Scunthorpe’s three games in hand on them, sat just three points above the relegation zone when Graham Coughlan was sacked.
This rise is no anomaly for Clough though, who has taken Burton Albion to the Championship against all odds and has managed the likes of Derby County and Sheffield United during his coaching career.
With this, Stirk is likely to be relishing the prospect of playing under the 55-year-old and is set to be a regular player for the Stags throughout next season, barring any injuries or suspensions.
At this stage of his career, this is a great move for the midfielder even if he proves to be too good in the fourth tier.
This gulf in class between a player and the league they’re competing in proved to be beneficial for Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson, who is now subject of interest from Premier League side Brentford after tearing up the third tier with Lincoln City last term.
The winger recorded an impressive 22 goal contributions in League One last season, almost guiding the Imps to the second tier but just missing out to Blackpool in the play-off final.
Mansfield will be hoping he can have a similar sort of impact at Field Mill, although his defensive midfield position may make him a lot more useful in other areas as opposed to goal contributions!