The crucial player keeping Birmingham on track ahead of Canaries clash

Lukas Jutkiewicz beats Tom Trybull in the air during City's 2-2 draw at Birmingham on the opening day of the season 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Lukas Jutkiewicz beats Tom Trybull in the air during City's 2-2 draw at Birmingham on the opening day of the season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

He may not be making too many Championship headlines but Birmingham will be bringing one of the division’s best performing players to Carrow Road tonight.

The imposing figure of striker Lukas Jutkiewicz has been a pivotal part of the Blues staying in touch with the top this season, scoring 10 goals and creating another nine.

While his fellow forward Che Adams has more goals (13), it is Jutkiewicz who has become the heartbeat of Garry Monk’s eighth-placed team, starting every league game so far this season.

Birmingham have scored 39 league goals and the 29-year-old has been involved in 49 percent of them. That’s even better than Canaries star Teemu Pukki, whose 15 goals and six assists in the league have seen him involved in 43pc of City’s 49 league goals.

The former Middlesbrough and Coventry centre-forward is a very different player to Pukki though, he is a target man who tries to dominate the aerial battle.

Statistics website lists Jutkiewicz as winning an average of 12.5 aerial duels per game, comfortably more than the division next best aerial performer, Bolton striker Josh Magennis on 8.7 per game.

He’s performed so well that the website rates him as the highest performing player this season, at 7.87 out of 10, ahead of Leeds duo Liam Cooper (7.50) and Pablo Hernandez (7.47).

MORE: Rhodes has provided good support but Pukki is so important to City

That has played its part in Birmingham topping the aerials won in the division, averaging 34 per game, more than any other team. Only Brentford (16.1) average fewer than Norwich (18.3).

It’s a direct route which has worked for Monk’s team amid transfer restrictions due to financial issues, sitting four points from the play-off places with 19 games remaining.

Speaking earlier this season, Monk told BBC West Midlands: “Since I’ve come in, he’s been at a high level for a consistent period.

“People might say he won that because he scored x amount of goals but, if you watch his all-round contribution, it’s more than just the goals.

“There’s a big demand on all the players, especially his position. But his strengths are coming out. It’s Jukey’s professionalism and character. He’s not the most vocal lad but he leads by example. When he does speak, he speaks with intelligence and experience.”

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