Juan Castillo, a player we’ve hardly seen on the field of play since he joined from Premier League leaders Chelsea at the start of the season, and one that fell right to the bottom of the pecking order.
However, Blues boss Lee Bowyer has lifted the lid on why he didn’t hit the ground running at St Andrews. After making his debut and only appearance for three-and-a-half months at the start of the season against Sheffield United and a few U23 appearances here and there, many Blues fans were beginning to wonder why we signed him in the first place.
Speaking to Birmingham Live, here’s what Bowyer had to say:
“When he (Castillo) first came he was overweight, couldn’t run, broke down in the first week or two of pre-season because he was out of shape.”
With this in mind and Juan also still only being 21 years of age, it’s now obvious the Dutch defender was nowhere near ready to start in the first team.
Whether or not his mental health was a factor too as it must have been demoralising seeing academy products get a chance over you, it seems the club took all necessary precautions, while also monitoring his progress. And although his progress to anywhere close to full match fitness has taken the best part of half of a season, Juan no doubt stepped up to the plate when he came on against Coventry and helped grind out a well-earned clean sheet.
The Blues boss has since been full of praise for ‘much fitter’ full-back:
“He didn’t do himself any harm when he came on the other night [Coventry]. Obviously, it was in difficult circumstances as well.
“He is a young lad, let’s not forget. He came on and put a shift in and helped us get a clean sheet, so he didn’t do himself any harm.
“I don’t think it’s fair to go that deep into conversations about individual players. What I would say is since he has been here he has improved as a player and is a lot fitter now.
“For as long as he is here, whether it’s until January or it is until the summer, we will keep working hard with him and when he finally does go back to Chelsea he will be a better player than the one that arrived.”
Major credit goes to Juan for his comeback and getting match fit while younger players were getting the chance over him.
With Blues already low on numbers, I think Castillo could prove to be very valuable cover as we head into a very jam-packed festive period. However, he may be recalled come January.
This means December is a crucial month for his career and if he continues to keep his head down and work hard he may get his chance under Bowyer to rejuvenate his career and make him a more attractive prospect when he returns to Chelsea.