Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has dismissed transfer speculation surrounding Demarai Gray and said the player should only consider leaving St. Andrew’s for a Premier League team capable of challenging for a Champions League place.
Gray was last week named the Football League’s young player of the month for December and has been the subject of three failed bids from Championship leaders AFC Bournemouth.
With media scrutiny intensifying over the 18-year-old’s future, Rowett deflected some of the attention on the winger by starting him as a substitute during Saturday’s cup defeat against West Brom.
And the Blues boss believes that Gray, who impressed during a 20 minute cameo should stay with the club until an “opportunity” emerges that is “befitting of his talent”.
“One of the biggest things was it’s been a big month for him there’s been a lot of speculation about him – I just wondered whether it might be a little too much for an 18-year-old so I felt it might be nice to get him out of the limelight for a bit and that his pace and trickery might serve us best by impacting later on in the game,” Rowett said.
“He showed what he’s all about when he came on.
“I’ve had lots of conversations with him recently, he’s never once told me that he’s keen on leaving the club so I just think it’s one or two people trying to stir things up.
“He’s our player and I hope he stays. He’s a fantastic talent and I’ve said it before I think he’s best served being here until an opportunity comes his way that’s befitting of his talent and for me at the moment it’s only probably a top four team that can do that and that’s not being disrespectful to anyone else,” Rowett added.