Birmingham boss Gary Rowett praises Demarai Gray's performance against Preston, despite winger's missed chances

Gray had two great chances at Deepdale to help the Blues get their first win in five games.

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett has heaped praised upon Demarai Gray's performance against Preston yesterday, despite the winger's failure to take two great chances to help the Blues rediscover that winning feeling, the Birmingham Mail reports.

Going into the game, Rowett's men had slid towards mid-table, with Saturday's draw with Middlesbrough being their fourth successive game without a win. 

And against the Lilywhites Gray had two great chances, including one in the final seconds of the clash to end their wait for a win. Despite being one-on-one with Preston goalkeeper Jordan Pickford however, Gray was unable to test the stopper, and instead put his attempt wide. 

However, Rowett suggested that there are reasons to be positive about Gray's performance (via Mail).

"When you get into those positions time almost stands still and you have time to think about where you are and what you need to do," he said. "But when you have scored two or three this season you become a bit more relaxed in those situations.

"Technically he has got the ability to finish them and we should be championing the fact he gets into those positions.

"He was almost unplayable at times. I am sure he will be just as disappointed. I can rest everyone assured. He knows he should take those chances."

The ability to add end product - whether that be from a cross or a shot - is clearly one of the toughest attributes for a winger to develop, as several top Premier League wide-men will testify. 

The 19-year-old continues to give defenders a torrid time in the Championship, and yet he has just one goal and one assist to show for it so far this season. Those returns, as well as his performance against Simon Grayson's men, suggest that while Gray is undoubtedly a star in the making, he still has a long way to go before he realises his astronomic potential.

While Rowett may well be frustrated, given the club's wait for a win continues, that Gray was unable to finish the chances, his stance is surely the correct one, as it will allow Gray to continue his development by doing what he does best, rather than become a player who is thinking too much about what he should do if he finds himself in those situations again. 

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch