Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has insisted that forward Sam Cosgrove has the attributes needed to become the Blues’ long-term replacement for Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Cosgrove was brought into the club in the January window for a fee of around £2 million from Aberdeen. However, he has not been able to have too big of an influence on the side amid the managerial change at St Andrews. The forward has been limited to just ten Championship appearances all of which have come from the bench since his arrival.
Bowyer has elected to put his faith in Jutkiewicz to be the focal point of the Blues’ bid for survival, and he has instructed his players to provide plenty of quality crosses into the box for him. It is a tactic that has paid off handsomely with the experienced forward scoring crucial goals to keep the club in the second tier. That has inevitably seen Cosgrove’s chances limited so far.
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Speaking to Birmingham Live, Bowyer insisted that Cosgrove has the potential to become the Blues’ go-to man upfront over the next few years. He also suggested that he can eventually cement himself as the long-term successor to Jutkiewicz in the Blues’ attack.
He said: “Sam is a player that is young and learning the game, I would say. I see him as a replacement for Jutkiewicz, as in a like-for-like player and he is learning.
“He is improving, even in the time I have been here I have seen him improve every day.
“His movement is getting better, his hold-up play is getting better, his finishing is getting better so he is improving.
“I am guessing, I don’t know, I am guessing the club didn’t bring him in for the here and now to replace Jutkiewicz, this is more of – not a project but a development thing because he is young.
“Maybe in a year’s time or maybe next season step in, step up and then take over from Jukey? Then he be the No. 1 and Jukey come off the bench? I don’t know. I don’t know what the thinking was.
“But I see a player who works hard every day and is improving. That’s all you can want from the lad.”
It has been a real challenge for Cosgrove since he made the move to the Blues from Aberdeen, but these comments do suggest that he has been impressing Bowyer with his attitude around the training ground. That has to put him in a good position to challenge for more regular game time upfront for Birmingham next season.
However, Bowyer has Jutkiewicz to call upon, and with the form he has been in since his arrival, there is no way he can be left out of the starting line-up. Cosgrove is perhaps too similar to the experienced forward to be started alongside him, which means he has had to settle for more of a supporting role than being the main man at St Andrews.
Whether Cosgrove will be willing to bide his time and wait for another season or so before becoming the Blues’ main striker remains to be seen. Bowyer will need to give him chances next term to keep him fully motivated and on board. In the long-term you can see the forward being potentially a key player for the Blues if he can learn from Jutkiewicz.