Birmingham City: Demarai Gray can benefit by staying, says Rowett

Birmingham City winger Demarai Gray
Demarai Gray was the youngest player since Trevor Francis to score a hat-trick for Blues last season

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett says that teenage winger Demarai Gray's career would benefit by him signing a new deal with the Championship club.

The 19-year-old's form after becoming a regular under Rowett last season led to several bids, reaching a reported £5m, from promotion-chasing Bournemouth.

It is not known whether they have come back in for him since being promoted.

But Rowett insists: "Another season in the Championship would be beneficial to him in the long-term."

The Blues manager told BBC WM: "I want to keep him for longer and build a team round that kind of talent. Talks have been going over the last three or four months."

Demarai's finer details . . .
Birmingham-born Gray, raised in the Rubery area of the city, was spotted playing for Cadbury Athletic at the age of eight. One of 12 Academy players to break into the first team inside three years, he made his debut as a late substitute in September 2013, signing his first contract prior to his England Under-19 debut in September 2014.

Gray, who has a year left on his current deal, has been given an extra five days off following his end-of-season efforts with the England Under-20 squad in Toulon, as has fellow winger David Cotterill, who was away on Wales duty.

"I spoke to Adie Boothroyd, England's Under-20 manager, who was very complimentary about him as a character and a player," added Rowett.

"The important thing for us was to make sure he's got enough rest ahead of what will be a long season so, although the other lads have reported back for pre-season training, he and David Cotterill have been given an extra five days off."

The bid to get Gray tied down to a new deal comes on top of signing up another youngster Koby Arthur on a two-year deal earlier this week.

"We're trying to build a group of Under-21 players to be a feeder group to the first team," added Rowett, "To give them a bit more physicality, a bit more awareness of what it takes to be a first team player."