One to Watch #36: Jordan Mutch

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 03 March 2010

                                                     mutch

Name: Jordan Mutch

Date of Birth: 2nd December 1991

Position: Centre midfielder

Club: Birmingham(on loan at Doncaster)

Previous clubs: Derby, Hereford(loan)

International caps(goals): England U17 9(1)

Mutch, from Alvaston, Derbyshire, began his football career in Derby County's youth system, where he spent five years working under Academy director Terry Westley. In the summer of 2007, Mutch decided to leave Derby, choosing to rejoin Westley, by then Academy director at Birmingham City, despite competition from clubs including Liverpool and Aston Villa. Because of the player's youth, no transfer fee was payable, but a compensation package was agreed with Derby for his services.

He made his debut for the England under-17 team in July 2007, aged only fifteen-and-a-half, against their Icelandic counterparts.

While still a schoolboy, aged 15 years 298 days, Mutch was selected in the 16-man squad for Birmingham's League Cup third-round match against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in September 2007. The Premier League confirmed that match rules permitted selection of a player of that age, but changed their minds only hours before the match after becoming aware of the Football Association's Child Protection regulations which specified a minimum age of 16 for players in open-age football. Reserve player David Howland, who was not registered with a Premier League squad number, had to travel to Blackburn at the last minute with special dispensation to take Mutch's place on the bench wearing an unnumbered shirt.

Mutch was named on the bench for the January 2008 third-round FA Cup tie at Huddersfield Town, aged 16 years 34 days. Had he entered the game he would have broken Trevor Francis's record as the youngest player to make a competitive first-team appearance for the club; however the team struggled and manager Alex McLeish felt unable to give him his debut.

During the 2007–08 season Mutch made more appearances for the reserve team than any other outfield player, as well as playing 14 games for the under-18 side, and was voted Academy Player of the Season. He was in the starting eleven for the Birmingham Senior Cup 5–0 victory over Burton Albion; though nominally a reserve team several first-team players were included.

In the build-up to the 2008–09 season, Mutch was part of the first-team squad and, together with fellow youngsters Jared Wilson and Sone Aluko, went on the club's pre-season tour to Austria, where his performances were remarked on favourably by other players. He was included in the starting eleven in pre-season domestic friendlies, but McLeish was reluctant to push him into first-team football at Championship level before he was ready.

Mutch finally made his first-team debut as a half-time replacement for Gary McSheffrey in the second-round League Cup defeat at Southampton on 26 August 2008, thus becoming Birmingham's second-youngest debutant of all time, after Trevor Francis.

In October 2008, Mutch was ordered to take a period of complete rest because his rapid rate of growth had placed excessive strain on the growth plates in his legs. Rest and surgery corrected the problem, which had caused fractures in both feet, and Mutch accepted the offer of a first professional contract in April 2009.

Mutch joined Hereford United of League Two on 26 November 2009 on a Football League Youth Loan, an arrangement which allows the player to appear for Birmingham's reserve and youth teams on days when Hereford have no fixture. The loan expires on 2 January 2010. He went straight into the starting eleven for Hereford's second round FA Cup match at home to Colchester United two days later, and played the whole of the game, which Hereford lost to a stoppage-time goal. Mutch made his debut in the Football League on 1 December in a 3–1 win away against Northampton Town; his free-kick was parried by Northampton's goalkeeper to set up a goal for Mathieu Manset.

On 25 January 2010, Mutch joined Doncaster Rovers of The Championship, also on a month's Football League youth loan. Mutch made his debut the next day as a second-half substitute in the 4–1 home defeat against Middlesbrough; he scored from a "stunning 25-yard shot" to give his new club a consolation. The loan was later extended for a further month.

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