Richard Beale has been handed a key role by Alex McLeish – and he doesn’t intend to let him down.

At 31, Beale has been appointed Birmingham City’s reserve team manager, following a successful period as caretaker.

Beale has been involved at the club for eight years in various Academy coaching capacities.

And he was most recently Birmingham’s education and welfare officer. But this is his big break.

“I feel very fortunate to have been asked to do the role,” said Beale, a former Port Vale apprentice who has served a variety of Midland non-league clubs.

“I’m aware of how many people would want to be in the position I’m in and I’m grateful I’ve been given the opportunity at an early age.

“I feel I can learn so much from Alex, Andy Watson and Peter Grant. In two months already it’s been a fantastic learning opportunity and I’m going to grasp it with both hands.

“My aim is to take the role on a step and bring on as many young players for Birmingham as we can.”

With the likes of Nathan Redmond, Akwasi Asante and Jack Butland emerging – and the club owners’ intention to rely heavily on the Academy in future years – Beale certainly doesn’t have a cushy number.

“It’s the manager’s call in terms of league position and when to pitch them in, but those players have got to be good enough,” said Beale, who was parachuted into the job when Malky Thomson left in August for Al Ahli.

“Where they’re at at the moment isn’t enough. Nathan has had a taste of it, Akwasi has been on the bench.

“I see my job as saying ‘right you’ve had a taste of it, now you’ve got to improve again and take it on to try and force your way into a Premier League match – and long-term the next season or two or three into an established Premier League player’.

“That is now the big step for them, the 16, 17 or 18-year-old players.”

Beale, who has been Leamington player-coach for the last year, added: “On a number of days now the manager and the first-team coaches are very open to getting the boys across to train with the first team if they’re good enough.

“That’s the key because they’re not just going to be sent over for the sake of it.

“I think that slowly it’s developed and we’ve got three or four boys now that can go over and certainly hold their own.

“That’s great and certainly what needs to happen to augment the first-team squad, and to also show the other players what they can achieve and what they can get if they improve.”