Birmingham City boss Lee Bowyer has confirmed the club are looking at options regarding their goalkeeping situation in an interview with Birmingham Live, after Andres Prieto’s departure was confirmed.
Prieto, 27, joined the Blues last summer on a free transfer from Spanish top tier side Espanyol, but only went on to make two cup appearances in England and didn’t even get a chance to perform in the Championship.
With this lack of appearances, the West Midlands side and the Spanish goalkeeper have decided to part company two years early and the 27-year-old will now be on the search to find a new club this summer as he becomes a free agent.
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Prieto found himself behind Neil Etheridge for much of the 2020/21 campaign but the Philippines international is also unavailable for Lee Bowyer, as the 31-year-old recovers in hospital from Covid-19.
Thankfully, his condition is improving but the Blues are unlikely to see him return for the foreseeable future and only have Zach Jeacock and Connal Trueman as options in the goalkeeping department as things stand.
Jeacock made two Championship appearances and Trueman spent time out on loan at AFC Wimbledon and Swindon Town last season which could come in handy.
But Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper Matija Sarkic could pip them to the post on the opening day of the season, with the 23-year-old currently on trial with the Blues ahead of a potential loan move.
The Championship side’s boss Lee Bowyer spoke out about this issue in an interview with Birmingham Live and said: “With Neil’s situation that is something we are looking at now because we are not sure when he will be able to come back in training.”
“He definitely won’t be ready for the start of the season. That’s one thing I do know, so we are looking at that at the moment and what options we have.”
First of all, it’s important to state Neil Etheridge’s health comes first as he continues his recovery from Covid-19 – and that’s probably why Lee Bowyer is certain he will not be ready for the first game of the season.
He will also miss an important chunk of the Blues’ pre-season preparations and will need time to recover mentally from this scare, so bringing in Matija Sarkic on a temporary spell would be a wise move if he impresses on trial.
Just one loan deal will be sufficient in this department – and Bowyer should use this opportunity to give Zach Jeacock a vote of confidence after appearing a couple of times in the second tier last summer.
Looking at it from a financial point of view as well, they can’t afford to have too many keepers on their wage bill, so the presence of Sarkic and his two backup goalkeepers in Jeacock and Trueman will be more than sufficient until Etheridge makes a return.