Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has praised the performance of Jordan Graham after he was handed a rare chance to impress during the Blues’ goalless draw at Huddersfield Town.
Graham was handed his first start of the season for Birmingham in the Championship since his arrival on a free transfer from Gillingham in the summer.
The 26-year-old came into the side in a somewhat unfamiliar right-wing-back role, but Graham was able to demonstrate that he can perform in that position and he provided more of an attacking outlet for the Blues down their right-hand side.
Overall, Graham managed to make one key pass and deliver two accurate crosses into the penalty area, whilst he was also able to show his defensive qualities by making two tackles and also one interception during the 90 minutes.
It was therefore a performance that showed to Bowyer that Graham can be entrusted to start matches for the Blues in the Championship.
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Speaking to Birmingham Live following the goalless draw at Huddersfield, Bowyer insisted that he had been impressed with Graham’s performance. While he also admitted he took a gamble on starting the 26-year-old to try and get more creativity into the side.
He said: “Jordan I have to take my hat off to him and Riley – they have not played. To just throw them in the deep end, especially Jordan because Bela got injured yesterday.
“I had to rethink overnight but I thought ‘Give him a chance’ because I know what he can bring if we can get him on the ball in the final third. He does bring that bit of quality.
“That’s how Gardner nearly scored but defensively that’s not his strong point, it was a bit of a gamble for me, I could easily have brought Harlee in and played Dion as right-wing-back but then I am playing five centre halves, I can’t do that.”
Considering the run that Birmingham have been on in terms of failing to win or even score goals in their last five games, it was always going to be difficult for Bowyer to just continue to ignore Graham.
The 26-year-old deserves credit for keeping himself motivated and fully ready to take his chance to start in the league for the first time this season. That shows that Graham is ready to fight for his place in the side at St Andrews and he has put down a good marker with this display.
There is plenty more to come from Graham in terms of his end product in the final third, but there were signs at Huddersfield that he could even mature into a strong right-wing-back over the course of the campaign if he gets the chance to do so.
It would be harsh on Graham for him to be dropped after this performance and he has probably done enough now to earn a run in the side.