COCA COLA CHAMPIONSHIP
Stephen Clemence has defended Cameron Jerome after his debut ended in spectacular fashion after being sent off within five minutes of entering the fray as a substitute.
Birmingham have confirmed that they won't be appealing against the decision and Jerome will now miss tomorrow night's fixture at Sunderland.
The £3 million summer signing from Cardiff will also miss the trip to Stoke on Saturday and the home game with Crystal Palace on August 19.
All of which will frustrate the 19-year-old still further who reacted to being fouled by Karl Duguid during Saturday's victory over Colchester. After being repeatedly kicked, Jerome swung out his arm and caught Duguid in the face and referee Keith Stroud deemed it to have been violent conduct and dished out the appropriate punishment.
Jerome was suitably distraught as he disconsolately trudge from the field and saw Nicklas Bendtner hog the limelight with his well-executed late finish.
It is a debut that won't linger in the memory of Jerome but Clemence is adamant it won't set a precedent for his Birmingham career. "Cameron is disappointed but, from what I have seen in pre-season, he is a little bit like that.
"He is a little bit all arms and legs and a very strong boy. If he does catch you then you will know about it," conceded Clemence.
"He's not the sort of lad who will smash his elbow into someone. I think he has just put his hand up and the referee saw it as deliberate."
Steve Bruce's decision to leave Jerome on the bench was a surprise, as competition is hotting up amongst his growing squad.
Clemence saw off the challenge of Mehdi Nafti, Neil Kilkenny and Fabrice Muamba to secure his central midfield berth but is fully aware of the need to utilise all of Bruce's squad this term.
"There will be some very disappointed players here that weren't even on the bench," admitted Clemence.
"We have got a very strong squad but, hopefully, throughout the season, everyone will get their chance.
"It was probably a bit of a rude awakening as to what the division is going to be like," continued Clemence, referring to their seasonal opener against Colchester.
"I wouldn't say we underestimated them, as we were prepared, but they played well I thought. It was a tough game and took a bit of magic to turn it round and win us the game.
"There's big pressure on us. Everyone thought we would turn and win by three or four goals just because we had come down from the Premier-ship and they had come up from League One. It's not always the case and every game is tough.
"I was pleased that DJ got his goal and we look like we have a few goals in us.
"For the last four years, we have been fighting at the bottom end of the table. Now, when you look at the newspapers, everyone is making us favourites.
"It is a different kind of pressure but we have the quality here to deal with that and I am sure we will get better and better."
Clemence turned his thoughts to tomorrow night's trip to Sunderland, who started the season with a 2-1 defeat at Coventry.
Whilst they haven't had the same financial backing that Blues have during the summer, expectations are always notoriously high on Wearside.
And Clemence is under no illusions that Birmingham will have to up their performance levels if they are to return with another three-point haul.
"It is a very big game," he said. "it is between two of the favourites to go up and I would imagine we will have to perform much better if we are going to get a result."
Clemence's midfield partner Nafti has been called by Tunisia for their clash with Mali in the French city of Narbonne on August 16.