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Will Packwood named Young Player of the Month

21 March 2014

Birmingham City defender Will Packwood has been awarded The Football League's Young Player of the Month Award for February.

The award covers players that play in all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.

The 20-year-old, whose preferred position is centre-back, joined the Blues Academy as a 14-year-old. He was born in Massachusetts but his father, Richard, is a Birmingham City supporter.

Having made his breakthrough into the first team at St. Andrew's last season, Will suffered a major setback when he sustained fractures to his tibia and fibula after landing awkwardly against Leeds United last January - at the time the injury was considered potentially career-threatening.

However, after a successful rehabilitation, including a short loan spell at Bristol Rovers earlier this season, Will returned to the Birmingham City line-up in late January and has since put in some outstanding performances.

Such has been the return to fitness and form of the young defender he was included in Jurgen Klinsmann's senior USA squad for the first time last month.

On receiving the award, Will reflected on the injury he sustained a year ago: "I didn't know how bad it was. My first thought was what does this mean? I could tell it wasn't good. Until I had a time frame for my recovery, I definitely felt very tense."

Birmingham City Manager Lee Clark said: "If ever players are put up for these awards, you want it to be the ones that work hard at their game and are good examples. And Will is certainly that. His injury was career-threatening and to come back the way he has just shows his professionalism, desire and courage."

Each season, Football League clubs invest more than £59m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent.

There are 8,700 young players registered with League clubs making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. In the 2013/14 season to date, 164 players aged 21 or under have made their professional debuts for Football League clubs.

David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: "It can be difficult for any player to have a lengthy spell out after a serious injury, but it is particularly pleasing to see a young player make a successful return to the side. Will thoroughly deserves this month's award and I wish him all the best for the remainder of the season and beyond."

Each month the accolade is awarded by The Football League to the young player who has made the most significant contribution and impact in first team football. To be eligible the player must be either under 21 years of age or be playing in the season during which he turns 21. Currently a third of all players registered with Football League clubs are eligible to be considered for this award.

Click here to read BBC Sport's interview with Will Packwood

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