Mutch comes of age at Birmingham
Jordon Mutch stands on the brink of Birmingham City history this weekend with the chance to become the youngest player to represent the club.
The 16-year-old is in the first-team squad for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie at Huddersfield Town following a spate of injuries and absences in central midfield.
Skipper Damien Johnson remains on the sidelines with a head injury, Mehdi Nafti is struggling with a virus and Wilson Palacios has come to the end of his loan period from Olimpia leaving manager Alex McLeish short of options at the heart of his team.
Nafti may yet recover and McLeish is working towards extending Palacios' stay at St Andrew's for another six months but if the Tunisian fails to retake his place alongside Fabrice Muamba at the Galpharm Stadium Mutch could come into the reckoning.
Whatever happens it will be the second time the former Derby County trainee has travelled with the squad having been at Blackburn Rovers for a Carling Cup tie.
Unfortunately he was not eligible to play in that competition because of age restrictions but no such regulations exist in the FA Cup and he could break Trevor Francis' record that has stood since September 1970.
Francis was aged 16 years 139 days when he appeared against Cardiff City, Mutch will be younger by 105 days.
Assistant manager Roy Aitken believes the teenager, who was only 16 at the start of last month, deserves his opportunity having impressed in the youth team and for the reserves. Aitken said: "One thing the manager has done throughout his career is say 'it doesn't matter how old you are, if you are good enough you will be in the selection plans'.
"Jordan has come into the group, is going to the cup-tie, good experience for him. It is a good boost for him and shows other youngsters around the place that they will get promoted if they are doing well."
The former Aston Villa coach is confident Mutch is up to the task. "There is every chance he could be stripped, he could be in the 16," he said.
"We will wait and see what the weekend brings. He has done well, he handles training well, he has got potential and the manager is not afraid to reward that potential.
"We are really pleased with him.
He has got all the qualities required of the modern footballer. He is very mobile, a lovely touch on the ball but we've got to remember he is only 16."
Aitken is uniquely qualified to make such a judgment having made his own senior debut at the same age when he came through the ranks with Celtic - in 1975.
The 49-year-old remembers the impression made when replacing the legendary Danny McGrain in a League Cup match against Stenhousemuir in his formative years and expects Mutch to experience the same thrill.
"You can't beat that experience," he said. "It is what you want to do. Jordan wants to be a professional footballer and just to see how the boys go about their business is important to him.
"I made my debut at 16, went back out of the team and was back in at 17. It is great and exciting at that age. At that age you have no fear and Jordan is a confident lad as far as his football is concerned."
Blues will also be without Rafael Schmitz and Olivier Kapo although both are expected to return in time for the away match against Arsenal in eight days time.
Despite their injury problems and the loss of Johan Djourou, Aitken said McLeish had not changed his plans to sell Martin Taylor, Rowan Vine and Neil Danns - all of whom have returned to the club at the end of loan arrangements.