There is one player I don’t want to see on Birmingham City’s released list

There was a pause before Birmingham City’s players came out of the tunnel for the apology tour after the last game of the season. Most of the crowd dispersed after relegation was confirmed despite a 1-0 win over Norwich City, but some stayed to show their appreciation – or vent their anger.

The Blues players were clearly nervous. So they waited for Lukas Jutkiewicz to lead them on the pitch. The one player Bluenoses will never activate was pretty much used as a human shield to discourage those on the terraces from abusing others too much.

Jutkiewicz is often asked to cope when others won’t. After the draw at Huddersfield Town in the penultimate game of the season, which put the Blues on the brink of relegation, Jutkiewicz was put forward for media duties.

He was also tasked with answering the tough questions after the dreadful defeat to Coventry City at the start of December. A wholehearted ram of a centre-forward on the pitch, Jutkiewicz is considered, thoughtful and respectful with his words.

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Supporters’ respect for Jutkiewicz increased towards the end of last season. Many of us thought his season was over in mid-March when his knee buckled under him following an aerial challenge in the closing stages of the defeat to Watford.

But Jutkiewicz, desperate to save the Blues once more, registered and managed to give caretaker manager Gary Rowett an option in the final two games. It was another example of Jutkiewicz’s affection for the club he has called home for eight years.