Birmingham City in Austria: Deadline set by Chris Davies as youngsters look to impress

Birmingham City embark upon their annual pre-season training camp next week with a trip to Austria. Chris Davies will put his players to the test in the Austrian mountains before Blues open their pre-season campaign with a friendly against German second tier side FC Paderborn 07.

Davies will be joined on the training pitches by his two new sidekicks, Ben Petty and Nathan Gardiner, who have joined Blues from Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. They will have five uninterrupted days of training before the match with Paderborn in Thiersee next Saturday evening.

The new Blues manager and his sidekicks will be casting judgement in Austria. Davies explained: “By the end of the Austria trip I will have a really good handle on the level of the players I’m working with and the training sessions will be designed to see how they cope and get to know them personally as well.”

Players of all ages will be out to impress Davies. Just like every year, Blues are expected to take a selection of youngsters out to train and that could include hot-shot Junior Dixon.

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The striker joined Blues from Crystal Palace last year and caught the eye for the under-21s with a 19-goal haul across all competitions. All of Blues’ first team managers last season overlooked Dixon, despite the team’s lack of goalscoring alternatives to Fulham loanee Jay Stansfield.

Romelle Donovan wasn’t overlooked and this feels like a seismic pre-season for the 17-year-old. Now an England under-18, Donovan should view Blues’ League One campaign as the launchpad for his club career.

It is also a chance to stake a claim for Brandon Khela, who slipped beneath Donovan in the pecking order on Wayne Rooney’s watch. Khela’s versatility and tactical flexibility endeared him to John Eustace but his first team opportunities dried up after October. Khela’s loan with Ross County proved worthwhile and the 19-year-old has been training intensely for pre-season.

Davies’ squad will carry some of Blues’ best homegrown prospects and they will effectively fight it out on the training fields in Austria.

Equally importantly, pre-season trips create cohesion and camaraderie within squads. There wasn’t enough of those two qualities in the final six months of last season and Blues paid the price.

The players and staff will live in each other’s pockets for a week. They will share rooms, eat together, socialise and – more than likely – splash about in a swimming pool together with beach balls and inflatable unicorns.

It is on pre-season trips like this where successful seasons are formed. We will see how successful Blues’ Austria camp was next May.