Eight Birmingham City youngsters given chance to shine

Blues boss Gary Rowett offers professional deals to eight players graduating from the St Andrew's academy.

Eight Birmingham City youngsters will take their first steps in professional football at St Andrew's next season having been offered pro terms by the club.

Highly-rated attacking midfielder Wes McDonald is the pick of the bunch having been offered a two-year deal just 18 months after being taken on from Fulham's academy. McDonald has previously been involved with England at U16 level and will be hoping that he can push on with both Blues and country next season.

Midfielder Charlie Cooper, son of former Blues player and now Swindon manager Mark and grandson of former Blues manager Terry, has also been given a two-year deal as he looks to follow his family in making a name for himself in the Royal Blue.

Defenders Dom Bernard and Wes Harding make up the remainder to be offered two-year deals while keeper Jake Weaver, full-back Perry Cotton and forwards George O'Neill and Kyle MacFarlane have all been offered one-year contracts.

This is the second year in a row that Birmingham City have offered professional deals to eight of their scholars and once again shows the strength of their academy. Manager Gary Rowett has been vocal in wanting to slim down his first team squad and to use the best of the U21s to fill in when suspensions and injuries bite, so the chance is there for this year's crop to follow Dimmi Gray, Reece Brown and Koby Arthur in making their full debuts.

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