Under-23s captain set for Albania honour

Geraldo Bajrami
Geraldo Bajrami

Geraldo Bajrami will again lead Blues Under-23s in a crucial Premier League Cup group game against Reading at Solihull Moors on Friday afternoon

Geraldo Bajrami is poised to gain international honours with Albania.

Blues Under-23s skipper recently took part in a training camp in Durres.

It was with a view to being called-up by the Under-21s for the European Championship qualifiers.

Bajrami's parents left Albania just two weeks before he was born.

And although Birmingham-born and a Brummie, Bajrami is proud of his family heritage.

“It was an Under-19s/Under-20s camp. It was a two, three days training and an internal game.

“The Under-21s manager was there so it was mostly him looking to see what players might be ready for his side.

“He has already watched a few clips of me. He got in touch with myself and my Dad and he just wanted to see me for himself, in a training game.

“He felt I did well and we’ve been sorting out paperwork to get a passport. And hopefully I will be called-up for the Euro (2021) qualifiers.

“We have got Turkey in March. So it’s good news, so far.

“If I got selected it would be massive honour. My parents, family back home – we have also got cousins in Italy, Germany – would be delighted and proud. I’ve been getting a lot of messages, all the family wishing me the all the best.

“It’s good, it’s a nice feeling. The hard work is slowly paying off, step by step.”

He added: “Most of the players play in Italy, Greece. There’s one lad who is with a Spanish team. A couple play back home.

“The standard was decent. I think the 20s were much better, and I haven’t been with the 21s so I can’t comment on them.”

Bajrami, 19, is set to lead Blues in a vital Premier League Cup game against Reading at Solihull Moors on Friday (2pm).

With two fixtures left, Blues can secure qualification to the knock-out stage of the competition.

Bajrami, who took over the skipper's armband when Josh Martin moved to Hungerford Town on loan, said Blues have their eyes on silverware and winning the PDL North title.

“It’s motivation. You don’t play for nothing. Everyone wants to get into the First Team and along the way you want to win stuff as well.

“You want to feel good about yourself and the team.”

The back four for the Under-23s has a youthful look about it: Joe Redmond (19) is Bajrami's centre-half partner and another graduate from the Under-18s FA Youth Cup Semi-Finalists side Ryan Burke (18) is left-back.

“We have got that chemistry between us," said Bajrami.

“Joe played with me last year, so did Burkey. They are two tough defenders.

“The right-back, it has been changing. It was Josh Martin, Remeao Hutton has come back after injury and Corey O’Keeffe has been there too.

“So the right side has been a bit of a mix. But overall as a defence we have worked well.”

One of the reasons for the Under-23s success so far this campaign has been the ability to strip things back to basics, and then play their football.

Bajrami was open about it: “We kind of bully teams. That’s what we try to do first.

“I remember when we played Solihull Moors in pre-season and they bullied us.

“That was a good learning curve for us. We knew we needed to be more aggressive.

“If you want to get to First Team level, you have to be aggressive, be competitive. So that’s what we try to do at 23s level, rough ‘em up and impose ourselves.

“Sometimes we might not play as well, but because we have that mindset and work hard we get points.

“It’s good because it’s about building us up towards the First Team and everything that it takes.”

One of the considerations for Dan Scarr's sale to Walsall was the emergence of Bajrami, who has often trained with Garry Monk's squad.

“I have tried to be as consistent as I can," said Bajrami, who grew up in Quinton and joined Blues Academy as an Under-14.

“I’ve not had many drop-offs in the season. I’m trying to stay at a high level. I’m happy with the 23s armband, it’s a special honour.

“I just need to keep doing what I am doing and push on. The boys have been doing well, as you can see from the table. We’ve all been working hard.

“Consistency is the key thing. I want to kind of prove to others that they can rely on me. That’s what’s in my head.

“I want to train with the First Team as much as I can and perform for the 23s and see where that takes me.

“The (Albania) call-up, as well, hopefully that will come and help me develop.”