With the 2021/22 Championship campaign set to kick-off in three weeks' time, it will be intriguing to see how Birmingham City will fare under the guidance of manager Lee Bowyer.
Having saved the club from relegation last season, the 44-year-old will now be determined to lead the Blues to a relative amount of success in the second-tier.
Birmingham's preparations for another year in the Championship are already well underway as Bowyer has managed to bolster his squad by securing the services of a host of players.
Whereas Tahith Chong and Juan-Familia Castillo have joined the Blues on a temporary basis, Chuks Aneke, Jordan Graham and Ryan Woods have all been signed by the club on permanent deals.
Although Bowyer has been focusing on how he can improve his side in recent weeks, he has now received a boost regarding one of his current players who has made a decision concerning their future.
As confirmed by Birmingham's official website, George Friend has signed a contract extension with the club which will see him remain at St Andrew's until 2023.
Since joining the Blues last year, Friend has gone on to make 28 appearances in all competitions for Bowyer's side.
Although the 33-year-old has featured predominantly as a left-back during his career, he lined up at centre-back on 14 occasions during the previous campaign.
Considering that Friend is set to face competition from Kristian Pedersen and Castillo for position next season, he will need to be on top-form if he is to maintain a place in the Blues' starting eleven.
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
Extending Friend's stay at St Andrew's may turn out to be a wise decision by the Blues as he possesses a wealth of Championship experience.
Having made 337 appearances in this division during his career, the defender knows exactly what it takes to succeed at this level and thus could potentially play a key role in helping Birmingham push on later this year.
Whilst Friend may need to work on his consistency next season after averaging a WhoScored match rating of 6.68 during the previous campaign, there is no reason why he cannot go on to thrive under Bowyer's guidance.
Providing that the Birmingham boss is able to draft in some more classy operators between now and the end of transfer window, it wouldn't be at all surprising if his side make a barnstorming start to the year in the Championship.
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