As Blues gather momentum, Andy Walker reflects on a pivotal season for strike ace.
Premier League survival mission aside, the 2009/10 campaign will be a defining season for Birmingham City’s Cameron Jerome.
The ‘rising star’ and ‘one for the future’ tags are starting to fade; potential doesn’t last forever.
At 23-years-old, now is the time for Jerome to sink or swim as a Premier League footballer.
All the attributes are there. The Yorkshireman possesses power, pace and presence – but so do many strikers making a living in the lower divisions of English football.
It is that extra something that separates a Premier League striker from his Championship equivalent; the reading of a pass, the taking of a chance, the mental edge. Little things that make a big difference when it comes to achieving success in the top flight.
Jerome’s ability as a second-tier striker goes without question.
Twenty-seven goals in two seasons for Cardiff City was what convinced then-Birmingham manager Steve Bruce to bring him to St Andrew’s in the summer of 2006.
Nineteen goals in two promotion-winning seasons from the Championship with the Blues have further cemented his reputation at that level.
The former England Under-21 international’s debut Premier League season (2007/08) yielded seven goals, but that was merely a trial run..
“The Premier League is where everybody wants to be as a footballer,” acknowledged Jerome, who pledged his future to Birmingham in the summer by signing a new five-year contract.
“Playing at the very highest level and testing themselves against the best players week in and week out.
“That’s what this division is all about and my aim is to keep Birmingham in the Premier League, score as many goals as I can and play to the best of my ability.”
Jerome’s season has already been hampered by an ankle injury sustained in only the second game of Birmingham’s Premier League return.
Now fully fit, the hope is that the former Middlesbrough trainee’s pace-laden partnership with Ecuador international Christian Benitez will develop potency.
Jerome continued: “I had a bit of a setback with the injury during the early part of the season which was disappointing but that’s part of football and you just have to come back stronger. I feel like that at the moment. I feel mentally and physically stronger. We’ve had some tough games and I’ve been pleased with my own performances.”