By Tony Leighton
Satisfaction and frustration are the mixed emotions being felt by Birmingham City's England Under-19 international Nathan Redmond as the npower Championship season nears its conclusion.
The 19-year-old winger, who in August 2010 became the second-youngest debutant in the club's history - older than only the legendary Trevor Francis - is happy with the form he has shown and with the fact that in the current campaign he has more than doubled the number of first-team appearances to his name.
But with two games remaining and Blues six points below the Play-Off places, Redmond will end the season thinking of what might have been if he and his colleagues had performed as well before the turn of the year as they have since.
"For someone of my age to have played so many games is great," said the Birmingham-born winger, who has now turned out 79 times for the senior team and has had the likes of Premier League clubs Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham reportedly monitoring his progress.
"I've been having good spells and my consistency levels are getting better," he added, "and you could say I'm one of the experienced young lads here. But I'm still learning every day, and the older and more experienced players don't forget that I'm still one of the young lads and they're always helping me through.
"I was one of the only young lads in the squad last season, but now there's a few more and we're all on the same wavelength. We've got the energy to help out the experienced players around the park and that really does make a difference.
"It's just that belief, and the experienced lads and the youngsters have been such a good mix. It's just a shame that we didn't start the season better. If we'd been nice and solid like we have been in recent weeks and dug out a couple more performances early on, we could be right in the mix now."
Redmond is right. At the turn of the year, the Blues had picked up just 29 points from 26 games, but in the 18 outings since they have gathered a further 31 points - that's promotion form but, sadly for all at St Andrew's, it's too little too late.
"We are obviously disappointed," said the young winger. "I think the season speaks for itself. We've have had a good second half to the campaign, all we can do now is look forward to the last two games and try to get maximum points.
"But with the youngsters that we've got coming through and with the club bringing in new players in the summer, I think we'll be strong next year - the second half of this season shows we should be up there with the best teams."
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