Gary Rowett wants new deal for Emmanuel Mbende - 'the most physically impressive centre-half you're going to see'

The 20-year-old is out of contact at St. Andrew's this summer.

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett says the club are keen to keep Emmanuel Mbende beyond the end of his contract summer, and hopes the 20-year-old can make an impact at senior level next term.

Mbende arrived at St. Andrew's at the start of the campaign, signing a one-year deal upon his release by Borussia Dortmund, and has turned out regularly for the Blues' under-21 side.

Despite not yet making a first-team appearance for either of his two professional clubs, at 6ft 4, the German is certainly built for the man's game.

And Rowett - provided Mbende takes up the club's offer of a new contract - will consider loaning him out if he struggles to break into his plans.

"Sometimes you forget he’s 20 because when you look at him he’s probably the biggest, strongest, most physically impressive centre-half you’re going to see," Rowett told the Birmingham Mail.

“When you look at him you think he looks 25 or 26 but he’s not, he’s still a young player learning his craft.

"He’s come into a new environment and a new type of football. In some games one-v-one he’s outstanding defensively.

"He’s got good pace and good mobility, he’s reasonably good on the ball, so I think they are good traits for a 20-year-old to start with.

"The other bits are that sometimes his decision-making can be better in terms of when he has to go and win the ball and when he can’t win the ball.

"I think aerially something he probably hasn’t had to do through his youth career because he’s learnt in England that you have got to head a lot of footballs, something he needs to improve on as well is his timing.

"But we’ve seen enough this season that we would want to keep him again for another year."

Rowett has integrated 20-year-old Viv Solomon-Otabor into his first-team set-up this term, while 21-year-old striker Denny Johnstone has been allowed to gain experience on loan to Greenock Morton.

Teenage winger Demarai Gray, who was sold to Leicester City for £3.7million in January, as reported by BBC Sport, also flourished under the former Burton Albion boss at St. Andrew's.

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