Date: 8th May 2017 at 10:31am
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After confirming their survival at Bristol City yesterday, it’s set to be a hectic summer for Birmingham City.

Yet to name a permanent manager (although Harry Redknapp has held talks with the owners) Blues will be embarking on a busy pre-season.

For me, signing Craig Gardner permanently must be high on the agenda. I know his performances have been a mixed bag and there’s been much frustration over his ineffective set pieces, but please hear me out.

When he joined Blues on loan in January for his second stint at the club, Gardner was rusty. First team opportunities at his parent club West Brom were limited so his match sharpness wasn’t great.

That coupled with the disastrous run of form the team were on meant he would always find it difficult to fully find his feet.

However, since Gianfranco Zola’s resignation, his performances (set pieces aside) have slowly improved. Against Huddersfield Town last weekend, Gardner slowed the game down when Blues needed it most and his cross created Jonathan Grounds’ opening goal. Playing with ten men for such a long period is tough. Playing with ten men at full throttle is near impossible so Gardner’s patience in the middle of the park was key. He also showed the coolness required on a big occasion to smash home Blues’ second goal from the penalty spot.

Yesterday at Ashton Gate, Gardner made three or four vital interceptions and found a decent range of passing. He also forced a good save out of Fabian Giefer from 40 yards too – again, please ignore his set pieces.

Now, if Gardner was on an end of season report, it would say ‘could do better’. But with a full pre-season under his belt, the 30 year-old can be a vital player for his boyhood club next season.

Seeing him standing in front of the jubilant away following after the game yesterday singing along with the fans to Keep Right On (and other songs we won’t mention) showed how much passion he has for this football club. That alone can be a positive thing.

Although the deal is already agreed in principle, either club can pull the plug if they so wish. But forĀ  less than £1.5m, surely it’s a no brainer that Blues get it over the line.

 
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