This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Dion Sanderson managed to make his first start for Birmingham City in the Championship on Saturday in what was key moment for him as he aims to establish himself in Lee Bowyer’s side.
The defender has had to wait patiently for his chance at the start of the campaign with Birmingham having had a settled back three of Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean and Kristian Pedersen for most of the campaign so far.
However, against Preston, both Roberts and Pedersen were missing from the squad through injury and that presented a chance for Sanderson to come into the side and show his quality.
The 21-year-old was an impressive performer and managed to win seven duels, make five clearances and also make one tackle. That played a key role in helping the Blues take a point from the game and record a clean sheet.
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So with Sanderson impressing on his first start, we asked some of our FLW writers whether he has to now keep his place in the side even when Roberts and Pedersen return…
This is the best headache Lee Bowyer will ever have, because no one apart from perhaps Maxime Colin can be seen as a guaranteed starter at Birmingham City with Dion Sanderson in the mix.
It may have taken a while for him to get up to speed, but it’s been worth the wait and the 21-year-old will only get better as he adapts further to the division.
Roberts is a more experienced option at the back alongside Harlee Dean, but what message does it send out if Bowyer changes his backline for the upcoming game against QPR?
Preston North End may not be the most threatening side going forward in the Championship, but a clean sheet is a clean sheet and they will gladly take that after conceding four at St Andrew’s against Fulham not so long ago.
So he probably has to stay in for this match and it’s a situation the Blues’ boss will have to take on a game-by-game basis. Regardless of whether the likes of Roberts and Pedersen are better players or not, keeping the same lineup for their next game will show that solid defensive work will be rewarded with more game time.
And it will only go on to give those starters more motivation, not that they need it.
Quiz: Have Birmingham City ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
After a strong display in his first start, does Dion Sanderson have to keep his place at Birmingham when Marc Roberts and Pedersen return?
It depends where Lee Bowyer’s loyalties lie because Dion Sanderson is clearly a player ready to be starting game in game out for the Blues. But he is not their player and so Marc Roberts and Kristian Pedersen are and have been great servants to the club in recent years.
If I was picking the team Sanderson is one of the first names on the team sheet and with Birmingham still a positive run away from breaking back into the play-off places it is in Bowyer’s best interests to keep him in the side.
There is an argument that Roberts may walk straight back into his team for his long throwing abilities, with the height of the Blues’ attacking contingent that asset could be invaluable. Sanderson should be a mainstay as long as he can stay fit for me.
It’s a real dilemma for Bowyer.
Dion Sanderson was hugely impressive on the weekend and certainly has got the talent to be a regular starter at Championship level and the Blues looked improved defensively with him involved.
That said, Krystian Pedersen and Marc Roberts have both been impressive this term.
The latter’s long throws are also a weapon that Birmingham will want to be able to use in games, so it’s hard to see him kept out.
I’d leave Pedersen out and give Sanderson another chance to impress if I were Bowyer because the 21-year-old showed last year he has a really high ceiling.
The Blues boss should give him a chance to show that.