Birmingham boss Gary Rowett backs Viv Solomon-Otabor to be one of the first names on the team sheet next season

The winger has struggled to hold down a place in the Championship side's squad this season.

Gary Rowett believes that Viv Solomon-Otabor has the potential to be one of the first names on the Birmingham City team sheet next season, according to the Birmingham Mail.

The 20-year-old has featured 16 times in the Championship this term, but has made just two starts. And while Rowett admitted that it is unlikely that he will feature more prominently before the end of this campaign, he suggested that he has the potential to become an important player next year.

"Without me trying to throw away the last two months of the season for him, I'm not going to do that because he could still play a huge part, he'll probably be back in and out of the squad to the end of the season," he told the Mail.

"But I would expect him pre-season to be that good because he would have learnt that much this year he would be one of the first names on the team sheet next season - and that would be his challenge as an individual.

"I think he's got the ability and the physical attributes to do that and I think often a youngster needs a first season in and out and dipping their toe in the water, to then realise what they need to do."

While he is yet to really establish himself in the side, Solomon-Otabor has shown glimpses of quality this season that have allowed some to draw comparisons between him and former teammate Demarai Gray.

Like the Leicester City wide-man, the youngster's biggest problem appears to be adding end product to his game. This term, he has scored once and is yet to contribute an assist.

However, if he can continue to progress at the rate with which he has developed so far - having been playing non-league football during a loan spell with Oxford City two years ago - then he may well be able to rise up to Rowett's challenge and establish himself as a regular in the side next season.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch