Birmingham boss Gary Rowett discusses the size of the challenge trying to get Blues into play-offs

The Championship side have enjoyed plenty of progress since Rowett took over.

Gary Rowett has suggested that taking Birmingham from the top half of the Championship table and into the play-off places is a tougher challenge than what he faced during his first season in charge at St Andrew's, the Birmingham Mail reports.

The Blues boss took over last season with the club in the relegation zone having recently lost 8-0 at home to Bournemouth, but was able to galvanise the team and lead them to comfortable safety.

And their progress continued this term as they spent much of the campaign chasing the top six in the table. But with two games to go, a four-match winless run has seen their play-off hopes dashed for another year. 

And Rowett explained that clearing that final hurdle is a tougher challenge than all of the hurdles that have come previously combined.

"To go from second from bottom to mid-table is a lot easier than to go from ninth or tenth to fifth or sixth over a 46 game season. There are very small margins at the top," he told the Mail.

Birmingham's achievements have been hugely impressive this term given how thin their squad appears to be in terms of numbers.

And with several of their first-team currently on loan with the club - including Jon Toral, Kyle Lafferty and Ryan Shotton - their challenge of building a squad that is able to finish even higher next season will be even tougher, unless they are able to negotiate any extensions or permanent deals with each player's parent club.

However, one thing that will make Rowett's job easier is how much more appealing a move to Birmingham will now be. Last summer, some targets may have been put off making a move after the Blues had spent some of the previous campaign in the bottom three.

But the work that Rowett has done has stabilised their position in the second tier, which will give their targets this time around more confidence that they are heading in a positive direction, which will perhaps help them clear that next hurdle.

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