Luke Turner looks at the two players on the road to Rio this summer…
By the end of August, two of our players could potentially return to us as Olympic medal holders as they compete for their countries in Rio this summer.
Nicolai Brock-Madsen and Viv Solomon-Otabor have been called up to the Denmark and Nigeria squads respectively and both will gain some valuable experience from the Games. They will therefore be unavailable for Blues during the first few weeks of the season but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.
For Brock-Madsen, it will be an opportunity for him to get some game time on a big stage after his first season at St Andrews didn’t really get going. If he is to make the grade at Blues then he has to show Gary Rowett that he’s capable so by having this Olympic chance, he can do just that. It’s unlikely that he`ll be getting any game time at Blues at the start of the season so rather than just playing the odd game for the under 21s, he will be getting some competitive minutes with something to fight for at the end of it. More importantly, he needs to enjoy his football and this experience looks to be perfect for him and has arrived at the best time. I hope he gets a few games out in Rio and he comes back sharper, confident and ready to kick start his Blues career.
In Solomon-Otabor`s case, I’m pleased that he has been given this opportunity at this stage of his career and with little first team experience. We got a taste of what’s to come from him last campaign and he was well worthy of his Young Player Of The Season award. Blues may suffer a little from his absence in the first weeks of the season but the player himself should relish the opportunity. One thing he needs to build up is confidence and by getting selected to play in the Olympic Games, then that should be a boost in itself. He has the ability, it’s just a case of him believing in himself that little bit more as he could become a big player for both club and country in the future.
Brock and Viv will both be looking to feature more for Blues next season and with this opportunity arising, it could be the perfect leap pad for them both to stake a claim for a place in Rowett`s team.
With so many of our players being recognised at international level, it can only be good for their development and it shows that the club is heading in the right direction.