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Leko poised to join first matchday squad

He's a good player who is quick and good in front of the goal. Now we need to get him as fit as possible because he's been out for a long time

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka says that Jonathan Leko could join his first Blues matchday squad as early as this Saturday, when Sheffield Wednesday visit the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium.

Leko, who joined Blues from West Bromwich Albion at the end of August, has not played a competitive game since December 2019 after suffering an ACL injury whilst on loan with Charlton Athletic.

But the 21-year-old England Under-20 international returned to full training during the international break and is now ready to kick-on.

"Leko is available and training with us and now it's just about finding the right moment for him," said Blues Head Coach Karanka.

"He played some minutes in a game we played against each other, so let's see how and when the next step is.

"But I think he will be important for us because he is a player that can bring something different."

Although it is early days since recovering from his injury, Karanka says he has been impressed by what he has seen of the youngster out on the training pitches.

"I have the same impression that I had when we signed him," he said.

"He's a good player who is quick and good in front of the goal.

"Now we need to get him as fit as possible because he's been out for a long time.

"But I don't want to put a lot of pressure on him and think that he's going to score three goals every game.

"He's going to help us for sure but it's about making the right steps at the right time."

Another player that could figure against The Owls is Australian midfielder Riley McGree.

The 21-year-old joined Blues from MLS expansion franchise Charlotte FC earlier this month.

"He's (McGree) ready to play in the Championship," added Karanka.

"Again, he's a very good offensive player and he was the best young player in the league. He can improve our attack.

"He's coming from Australia where it's maybe not as strong as the Championship, but there are few leagues that are as strong.

"But one thing is clear that without the crowds the level of intensity is more or less the same in every single country.

"I think one important thing about the intensity and tempo of games in England is when the crowds are in the stadiums, but without the crowds the intensity is lower and I think it's easier for players that are coming from abroad."

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