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‘A head scratcher’ – Lee Bowyer faces key election dilemma for Birmingham City

Matija Sarkic’s form since joining Birmingham City could pose a strange choice headache for manager Lee Bowyer.

That’s according to our blues reporter, Brian Dick. Answered supporters’ questions during a Facebook Live session Tuesday.

The backup goalkeeper, who signed on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer, has played in every game so far this season and has replaced Neil Etheridge after the Philippines international contract Covid-19.

Etheridge, who has Premier League experience with Cardiff City, was number one going this season, but the 31-year-old has only played once in the League Cup, when he lost to Fulham last month.

Sarkic will stay between the bats until Etheridge returns to full fitness, but it’s not certain that the latter will automatically take his place in the starting lineup.

While Etheridge is a better defender and more experienced than the duo, Brian Dick was impressed with Sarkic’s footwork and how well he fit into the team’s system.

“I think Sarkic was excellent after staggering against Northampton in the preseason and then putting on a somewhat unconvincing performance against West Brom,” Brian told viewers on Facebook.

“What I can say about Sarkic is that he was really well protected. Not just the back trio, wingbacks and defensive midfielders, but the whole side protected Matty Sarkic really well.

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“There were no shots on target, they largely kept out. The Blues have conceded just three goals in six games this season.

“Where it was impressive was his kicking and slapping from the back. The starting position was very, very good. And that came pretty quickly for a guy who was just at the start of the preseason friendlies. Everything looks really functional and the back three and Sarkic all communicates really well and seems to know what they are doing.

“I think they have a lot of clean sheets this season, I think when Neil Etheridge is available, is there an argument for maintaining continuity? I think there’s definitely a debate.

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“If you’re asking me who the best defender is, Neil Etheridge is better. Sarkic is probably better with his feet. It’s a fair question to ask.

“I’m reluctant to go either way until Etheridge has fully regained 100 percent of his aerobic and anaerobic fitness in terms of muscle mass and conditioning.

“If it’s a balanced playing field and both goalies are in sync with each other, it’s head-scratching. I can’t deny that because Sarkic came in and did a really good job.”

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