Wayne Rooney and Jordan James disagree on Birmingham City 'unknown'

Wayne Rooney and Jordan James spoke to the media about Birmingham City's midfield approach.
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Birmingham City manager Wayne Rooney and midfielder Jordan James are in slight disagreement over the Wales international's best position. It has become a relative unknown as to where James performs at the highest level: Is he an all-rounder? An eight? A six?

Both the head coach and the player himself were asked the same question after Blues' 3-2 defeat to Leicester City – a game in which James scored both of his team's goals. The 19-year-old played as an advanced eight as such, arriving late in the penalty area.

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It worked brilliantly as James first scored a composed and soft finish into the bottom left-hand corner before doubling his tally in the second half with a delicate scoop over Mads Hermansen. James has also featured well as a six at other times, though, prompting a debate.

"It’s something I spoke to him about a few weeks ago," Rooney revealed. "He’s a very good player and he can play as a six like he does for Wales, but I think watching him in training, seeing how he can make the box and make really good runs, he’s a good finisher.

"In my opinion, he’s a number eight. As we’ve seen in the last couple of games, he’s done really well from there. There’ll be times he plays as an eight, there’ll be times he plays as a six. He’s got that ability. I’ve been pleased with his performances," Rooney said.

James, still a teenager, doesn't have the same physicality as the likes of Krystian Bielik and Ivan Sunjic but he does pace and stamina on his side. He also has great awareness to play out of tight spaces, often finding the correct passes to wide players.

Jordan James has quickly become a key player for Wayne Rooney.Jordan James has quickly become a key player for Wayne Rooney.
Jordan James has quickly become a key player for Wayne Rooney.
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Finishing is clearly a strong point, too, as James now has four Championship goals to his name this season. His strong anticipation means he can arrive into attacking situations late and often unseen by opposing defenders.

Responding to the positional debate, James said: "At the end of the day, I play where the gaffer tells me to play. I think obviously he sees something in me that I can get goals. I sort of adapt to whatever he says. Ok, I still feel more comfortable in the six, but as an eight I can play there. I feel confident and hopefully I can carry that on."

Maybe there isn't just one clear position, then, and it'll be taken on a game-to-game basis. One thing is for sure – James' versatility has become – and will continue to be – absolutely critical to the success of Rooney's system.

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