Birmingham City are heading towards a new year and they will start it without two of their biggest attacking threats this season in Riley McGree and Tahith Chong.
Chong suffered a groin injury in October and it’s one that will rule the Dutchman out for a number of months – Chong remains a Blues player with his rehab being done at the Red Devils but the club are trying to renegotiate his deal in order to pay less wages.
As for McGree, he has been afforded a run of games in the starting 11 recently and he’s taken his chance, scoring in wins against Swansea City and Bristol City.
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However the Australia international will be heading back to his parent club Charlotte FC of the MLS in January ahead of their inaugural season in the league, meaning that additions must be made in the attacking area in the mid-season window.
With Chong not expected to be back fit until at least March there could be a chance that his loan deal is terminated and Birmingham go for someone who can give them four full months of attacking spark – and that player could be contracted to the opposite side of Manchester to Chong.
That player is James McAtee, who has been ripping it up for Man City in their under-23’s side to the point where he must be considered for a Championship loan in early 2022.
The 19-year-old replaced another academy player in Cole Palmer for his Premier League debut on Sunday as the Citizens beat Everton, and in September he made his full senior bow against Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Cup.
It is his form for the under-23’s this season though which is extremely eye-catching, where he’s scored 10 goals in as many Premier League 2 outings and has added two assists to that record as well, and has also notched four goals in the UEFA Youth League in three appearances.
McAtee is primarily an attacking midfielder which is the void that will need to be filled when McGree heads back across the Atlantic Ocean, and he’s already been linked with a Championship club prior to the window opening in Swansea City.
The Blues could offer regular first-team football though and feeding the likes of Troy Deeney and Scott Hogan could see Bowyer’s side be very productive in the second half of the season – it would be foolish if McAtee was not on the club’s radar.
Bowyer has already admitted that he will have to wheel and deal as there’s going to be no money available for transfer fees being spent, so loans could be targeted again and that’s why McAtee would be ideal.