Cameron Jerome isn't happy about his peripheral role in recent weeks as Blues fought against relegation. Rob Tanner reports
Birmingham City's two-goal hero Cameron Jerome has said he will contemplate his future at the club after struggling to feature regularly under manager Alex McLeish this season.
The England Under-21 international striker was initially not in the starting line-up to face Blackburn Rovers and had left the ground to pick up his family when striker James McFadden suffered an injury in the warm-up.
The Blues backroom team frantically called Jerome as he drove back to St Andrew's and he ran out to take his place on the bench. After coming on for Mikael Forssell in the 69th minute, his afternoon didn't appear to get much better as he missed a sitter from just two yards out, but he redeemed himself by slotting home on the turn in the 73rd minute, his first goal at St Andrew's this season.
He then fired home a second goal after beating the Rovers off-side trap in the 89th minute to bring his total for the season to seven. However, his goals were not enough to keep City in the Premier League and Jerome said he was disappointed with the lack of starting opportunities under the new manager.
Jerome, who signed for Blues from Cardiff City nearly two seasons ago for £3 million, has started 11 of McLeish's 25 games in charge, having featured much more under the Steve Bruce regime.
"I wasn't in the 16 and I was peed off so I went to fetch my family from the station," Jerome explained. "I was on my way back into the stadium when I had a call that James McFadden had picked up an injury and I was on the bench.
"The goals are of little consolation because I haven't scored many. It was nice to score two. I could have scored another one but it got a bobble and I thought I was offside, to be honest.
"I was looking for that to save me but there are no excuses, I missed that one but I think I redeemed myself with the other two. I was happy with myself.
"I haven't been in the team since January and, when I was in the team, we weren't in the bottom three. Football is all about opinions and the manager hasn't played me for whatever reason since the beginning of February.
"There is nothing I can do if I don't play. I have to look at my situation, sit down with my people and my family and discuss it. Football is a funny game and anything can happen but I am not happy to be on the bench for the second half of the season, so we will have to see how it goes. We will assess it in the summer.
"I would be prepared to play for Blues in the Championship next season, definitely. I have two years left on my contract and I was relatively happy here until I wasn't playing.
If you speak to anyone in football, they will say they are not happy if they are not playing. It obviously isn't nice not to be playing but it is down to the manager's decision at the end of the day. I have to suck it up and get on with it, which I have done.
"I have not complained one bit since I have been out of the team. The manager lives and dies by his decisions and he has done that."
Jerome said the squad have to accept they didn't perform well enough over the season as a whole to avoid relegation after Fulham's 1-0 win at Portsmouth and Reading's 4-0 demolition of Derby County at Pride Park made their game against Rovers a mere formality.
"Everyone is disappointed and it is a sad day," said the 21-year-old. "It isn't something you want to happen to you in your career and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
"The table doesn't lie and there are no excuses. We have to hold our hands up and admit we weren't good enough to stay up. Or maybe we were good enough, but just didn't do the business. "We have been in that position so many times this season, where we have taken the lead but then conceded a sloppy goal and then we have gone on to lose or draw games we should have won.
"We showed good character to put in a performance on the last day of the season, it gives the fans a little bit of a send-off, although I know it is little consolation because we have just been relegated. At least we came out with a performance on the last day."
Now Jerome has challenged the board of directors to pull out the stops to keep the club's best players and add more quality to the squad if they want to bounce back from the Championship at the first attempt once more.
"I don't know what it will take to come back up, that is for the club to decide," he said. "We have got the players to get back up, we have quality players and we shouldn't have gone down. It is down to whether the board are willing to finance a promotion push.
"Are they going to panic and sell players like Olivier Kapo? Mikael Forssell and Maik Taylor are on a free, are they going to keep them? And the likes of McFadden and Mauro Zarate? It is something the board have to discuss with the manager.
"It is a question of whether people want to stay here, as well. If someone is unhappy, you can't just keep an unhappy person. There are some big decisions for the board to make now."