Young Blues goalkeeper Connal Trueman says he is ready for senior football after signing a new three-year deal with the Club.
The 21-year-old caught the eye with his performances during the Under-23s’ excellent end to their PDL2 campaign.
Birmingham-born Trueman, who joined Blues as a schoolboy a decade ago, has continued his impressive progression with 24 competitive outings for Richard Beale’s Development Squad, following up his 17 appearances at that level in 2015/16.
With his long-term future at St. Andrew’s now secured until 2020, the young shot-stopper is eager to make the next big step in his career.
“I think next season is a big season for me. It’s time for me to start playing competitive men’s league football,” he insists.
“Hopefully that’s at Birmingham City, or it could be going out on loan – that’s something we’ll have to look at. But it’s definitely time for me to really kick on and play in that first team environment.
He adds: “To get a new contract at all is obviously a pleasing thing, but the fact that it is three years is a vote of confidence in my ability.
“It’s always a learning curve, especially at my age. Every season you’re learning and improving and I got to play a fair number of games for the Under-23s, which obviously helped with my development.
“It’s been a solid season for me and I’ve been rewarded for that, so I’m happy.”
It’s been an unusual sort of season for Birmingham City at First Team level with two changes of management during the course of the campaign.
Trueman just focused on his own game and making a good impression.
“I felt like I got on well with all the managers and the staff they brought in. It was an opportunity to impress whenever a new manager came in and that’s the only way I looked at it. It was a pleasure to work with all of them,” he says.
Harry Redknapp’s decision to retain the services of Kevin Hitchcock was a boost for Trueman and the specialised training he receives.
Hitchcock took over from Kevin Poole in December and the young keeper has great respect for both coaches.
“It was good when Harry Redknapp came in and Kev Hitchcock, our goalkeeping coach, stayed as there was a bit of continuity there,” says Trueman.
“I had good working relationships with Kevin Poole and Kev. I’ve learning a lot under both coaches and continued to develop.
“They’re different people but they’ve both been in the game a long time and they obviously know what they’re talking about.”
Trueman was included in the matchday 18 for five games during the early part of the 2016/17 season, after an injury to Tomasz Kuszczak saw him called up to the bench to deputise for Adam Legzdins.
The youngster admits: “That was a great experience for me and another opportunity to learn what it’s like on a Matchday. It definitely whetted my appetite for first team action.”
Trueman travelled with the Blues squad for last Sunday’s do-or-die final game at Bristol City. He wasn’t involved in the 18, but he could be seen racing onto the pitch to join in the after-match celebrations after the narrow victory over the Robins secured Blues’ place in the Championship.
“It was fantastic. I’m sure the fans could see at the final whistle what it meant to everyone, all the staff and all the players,” he says.
“The celebrations on the pitch in front of the fans were incredible and that sort of buzz continued into the dressing room and onto the bus. Everyone was delighted.
“Big games like that are the ones that what you want to be involved in, 100 per cent.”
Trueman is now determined to stake his claim for a more active involvement next season.
“I’m going to have a little rest now and then hit the off-season work as hard as I can and come back in as good a shape as possible,” he concludes.
“I really want to hit the ground running and try and push the First Team keepers as much as I can on the training pitch and hopefully force the manager’s hand, whoever that is, to have a look at me and see where we go from there.”