This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Terrace Talk‘ series, which provides personal opinions from our FLW Fan Pundits regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Matija Sarkic was Birmingham City’s most consistent performer throughout the 2021/22 campaign up until his injury and deserves to pick up the player of the season award, according to FLW’s Birmingham City fan pundit Tom Oxland.
The 24-year-old linked up with the Blues on a training basis from Wolverhampton Wanderers around the same time Neil Etheridge was hospitalised with Covid-19, before officially joining in the latter stages of July.
With Etheridge taking a while to recover from the virus after being discharged from hospital, not being rushed back into action by the Championship side’s coaches, this gave the loanee the opportunity to get a run of league games under his belt and he certainly impressed.
Only die-hard Birmingham City supporters will get at least 20/25 on this quiz
Already making 23 second-tier appearances by the time the new year came around, he had established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet with competitor Etheridge failing to force his way past him in the pecking order.
However, a dislocated shoulder in January ended the shot-stopper’s season prematurely, a real shame for the Blues who had seen him flourish between the sticks during his time in the second tier.
Despite missing a sizeable chunk of the campaign with this injury, FLW’s Birmingham City fan pundit Oxland believes he is a strong candidate for the club’s player of the season award.
Speaking to Football League World, he said: “In what has been a very poor season for Blues, it’s hard to really pick out a consistent performer that you could say thoroughly deserves player of the season.
“I think, for me, it’s Matija Sarkic who we had on loan from Wolves.
“Great goalkeeper, a lot of potential, was extremely consistent and I can only think of one game where he made any errors and that was Blackburn away.
“Other than that, he was definitely our most consistent performer up until he got an injury and his loan was cut short.
“If that injury doesn’t happen, I think he’s comfortably our player of the season and would have gone on to make many more great performances before the season ended.”
Considering how poor the West Midlands outfit have been this season, Oxland is right to say that this is a hard choice – but this has made Sarkic stand out even more because he has been a class above most of his teammates this season.
His performances will certainly go a long way in either earning himself another loan spell or a place in Wolves’ first team next season, though the former may be preferable in a bid to maximise his game time.
At 24, he needs to be playing regularly and this is something he would be able to do at Birmingham if he can force his way past Etheridge in the pecking order, so the short move from his current side to the Blues could be a good option for him.
However, it remains to be seen whether the second-tier side’s board would be willing to spend the sum of money needed to lure the shot-stopper to St Andrew’s on a permanent basis.
They aren’t likely to splash the cash, so another loan deal may be the most likely option at this stage and for a side that have struggled majorly since his departure, it may be worth Lee Bowyer making another move for him if they are able to do so.