How Birmingham City's team could look on opening day if dream transfers are completed

Birmingham City have today learned their fixtures for the 2022/2023 Championship season. They start with a trip to Luton – end with a home match against Sheffield United, in the middle of which is a one-month season breaker to allow the Qatar World Cup to take place.

The season starts on July 30 – just over five weeks away – and while we know the identity of Blues ’ opponents, we are less sure about which players will be taking part in that game. Indeed with the transfer window open for the whole first month of the season, the side which starts at Kenilworth Road might not look much like the one which goes to Preston North End on September 3.

As things stand, with no signings made yet – a situation in which half of the division still find themselves – the only safe assumption in this summer of uncertainty is that the side will have a very familiar look to the one which played last term – minus sparkly bits.

READ: Birmingham City fixtures 2022/23 – live updates as Championship schedule set for release

READ: Birmingham City reveal 2022/2023 home kit as Lee Bowyer set for pre-season return

At the time of writing we are looking at a starting XI of something along the lines of Etheridge; Colin, Gordon/Dean, Roberts, Friend; Woods, Gardner, Sunjic; Graham, Deeney, Bacuna. Maybe, depending on formation.

But even with the takeover still bubbling away in the background, Blues have continued to be linked with targets – and BirminghamLive understands there are long-lists of players in whom Blues are somewhere between smitten by and vaguely interested.

Until the new owner becomes clear, we don’t even know how much technical director Craig Gardner will have to play with – but when I was asked to write this piece the brief was ‘How Blues squad could look on opening day if dream transfers are completed’.

Short of trying to bring Christophe Dugarry out of retirement and persuading Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale their futures really lie in Royal Blue, it seems sensible to base the piece around the players who have been linked – and in whom we know there is at least some interest.

Again, everyone will have their own ideas about formations, safe to say most have had enough of the wing back system and would want to see a return to a back-four. So, combining flights of fancy, outlandish hopes, with a dose of reality this is what I’ve come up with. Not quite ‘be still my beating heart’ territory – but at least partially spiced up from the status quo.

BLUES (4-2-3-1): Butland; Colin, Mawson, Roberts, Maatsen; Gardner, Bacuna; Sanchez, Chong, Hernandez, Deeney

how birmingham city's team could look on opening day if dream transfers are completed
© PA Crystal Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland

Jack Butland – Blues are interested in their former goalkeeper – whether he is interested in dropping into the Championship seems less likely. Let’s assume the heartstrings are tugged and he acquiesces.

Maxime Colin – Played through injury last season, his presence means right back might need depth but a new starter is not really a priority.

Alfie Mawson – A free agent after his release from Fulham, Blues tried for him in January and are still keen.

Marc Roberts – Had a decent enough season at the heart of a back three, Championship standard centre half in a back four.

Ian Maatsen – The left full/wing back looks set to leave Chelsea. Feyenoord have been extensively linked but after a good season with Coventry he’d be an intriguing prospect in what at present is an entirely vacant position. More of a wing back…

Gary Gardner – Recovered from a difficult first half of the season to end the campaign as Player of the Season after setting a new personal best in front of goal.

Juninho Bacuna – Ideally you want your most skilful player further up the pitch but if we are ‘dreaming’ there’s such quality in attacking positions the 24-year-old will have to play slightly deeper.

Ivan Sanchez – Yeah I know. He looks as though he’ll be heading back to Spain but Blues fans are yet to see him in the flesh and that’s a shame. Lovely on the ball, good work ethic off it and a sweet left foot. I’d like to see him swap wings from time to time.

Tahith Chong – Maybe as long a shot as Butland but he showed enough in an injury interrupted first season and really bought into what the club is about.

Onel Hernandez – It’s been a long time since Blues had someone as quick as the Cuban who could be surplus to requirements at Norwich, although we might have to wait a while to find that out. I’d love to see him back. In attack.

Troy Deeney – A move for Josh Maja would be genuinely intriguing. He’s a good age, has plenty of room for improvement and a signing such as his would represent an upturn in the club’s financial fortunes. Something about Deeney, leading from the front and scoring 15+ for his boyhood club is too romantic to turn down though.

Much to do in little more than five weeks? Right, back down to earth.

Which player do you, realistically, want to see Blues sign this summer? Let us know here

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