Gary Rowett says Birmingham will target more non-league prospects after handing trial to Bradley Ash

The Blues are hoping to uncover their very own non-league gems.

Gary Rowett has confirmed that Birmingham City plan to target more non-league prospects after handing a trial to exciting Weston-Super-Mare striker Bradley Ash, the Birmingham Mail reports.

The 19-year-old had been attracting interest from around 30 professional clubs, the Mail report, but it was the Blues that decided to take a punt on the forward who scored 14 goals in 13 starts for the Conference South strugglers. And Rowett suggested that Ash will be the first of hopefully many signed from the lower leagues in an attempt to bolster their own youth ranks.

"That's what we want to do - we want to look at some non league players who have done well and who are young and hungry. We want to also look at players who get released by other clubs," he said.

"I think at this moment in time others probably do it a little bit better than us in terms of they have quite a big group of 21 players, a lot of those players are in the league and are capable of playing in the league.

"We want more of those types of players because as we know that jump from the 18s, 21s and to the first team is a big jump physically - not necessarily technically," he added.

The emergence of Jamie Vardy, who went from non-league forward to Premier League record-breaker, has made several teams realise that delving into the semi-professional game can result in uncovering some excellent talent, for a fraction of the price that they would command if they had come through a professional academy. 

And while the strategy may not reap immediate rewards, it is likely that Birmingham will put themselves into a much stronger position for the future.

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