Boss to choose between youth and experience against the Tigers

Craig Gardner.
Craig Gardner.

You have to make difficult decisions each and every week, but the main aim is what I feel is best for the team.

Garry Monk

Garry Monk says he has yet to decide who will take the place of Gary Gardner against Hull City at the weekend.

Gardner will miss out against the Tigers after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in Blues' last game against Derby County; resulting in a one-game ban.

Monk now has a decision to make as to who will partner Maikel Kieftenbeld in the centre of the park - the experienced Craig Gardner, or up and coming youngster Charlie Lakin.

"We have got Craig and Charlie, the best of both worlds, you have experience on one hand and you have young enthusiasm on the other - but both have shown they can contribute," said Monk.

"As always with this group of players, it's tough decisions, you have to make difficult decisions each and every week, but the main aim is what I feel is best for the team.

"Whoever starts gives their all and puts their maximum out there and whoever's there to support it does the same.

"We have got more training to do then I will make an assessment who I think should start the game in terms of the whole team."

Craig Gardner has made just two appearances so far this campaign and last figured in the away defeat to Middlesbrough back in August; in a game in which he was also sent off late on.

Since then he has struggled with several niggly injuries but has been able to train fully recently.

"Craig has had a disrupted season so far and had some niggles here and there, but in terms of our training and the levels we know players should be hitting, what is relevant to themselves, we are always on top of that," continued Monk.

"You never know until they are doing it, you have to see in the games if they are doing 90 minutes, 60 or whatever they can reach. That can go for any player.

"Craig has had a clean period for the last three or four weeks of training, which he needed to prove.

"Of course, we would like to have got more minutes into him in terms of other games, but it's needs must. That's where we are in terms of the squad. His numbers in training suggest he is on the right track."

Meanwhile, if Lakin starts at the weekend he will add to the seven senior appearances he has already wracked up this season and Monk has no concerns over the 19-year-old's maturity.

"Not at all, I said at the time it was a big call when we played Sheffield United and Leeds, with young players if I feel they have the right attitude, frame of mind, you can see it in their eyes," added the Blues boss.

"It was the same with Wes (Harding) last season, people wonder where that has come from. But, of course, I work with them every day, so when I see it I have never had a problem with doing it.

"It's not a vindication for myself, it's a vindication for the player and Charlie showed that in his performances, Wes showed that in his performances.

"You have to give them the opportunity, but I never have any doubt, if it's Charlie or I have no doubt if it's Craig.

"With the whole group there are some that need to learn more than others but the way that they are I know whatever happens we are going to get 100 per cent from everyone."