One in and one out for Bristol City after centre-back picked up knock against Birmingham City

Robins central defensive options may be depleted but the West Country outfit do have others to call on if needed.

Bristol City welcomed back Rob Atkinson into the fold at the weekend, as the former Oxford United man got his first playing time since coming off in the 16th minute in the Severnside Derby win over Cardiff City in January.

And Atkinson played well after his introduction from the bench at half-time following a return from back and calf injuries on Saturday, as he helped the Robins to a better second period against Birmingham City.

Lee Bowyer’s side were two goals up in 13 minutes as the hosts were caught cold, but Nigel Pearson made changes at the break that saw the Robins claw a goal back and put in a much improved second 45 minutes. But ultimately it was not enough.

Atkinson and Cam Pring replaced Timm Klose and Sam Bell at half-time, with many assuming that both were tactical changes. But following the game, Pearson confirmed that the Swiss defender had picked up an injury, resulting in his early withdrawal.

“We lose far too many games by conceding really poor goals. And I have to take players off at half-time. Timm’s picked up a calf injury ,” said Pearson following the 1-2 loss.

“And Belly gets exposed as being a young player, because his teammates don’t help him.

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“It really irritates me so much. Second half we responded but for me that’s not good enough,” said Pearson to the club channels.

No further details were given on Klose’s knock at this stage but it is not believed to be a serious blow.

Pearson left out Robbie Cundy and Zak Vyner from the matchday 18 on the weekend, with both fit, and if the 33-year-old former Norwich centre-back is out for any length of time, then there are instant replacements who can step into the breach.

The manager wants to see more consistency from his Ashton Gate side, after a third defeat on the trot.

“We need players who are reliable [performers]. We don’t have enough currently,” added Pearson who explained that he would not pick a side to go out to not concede.

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Meanwhile, Danny Simpson’s departure, announced officially on Monday morning, will have come as little surprise to Bristol City supporters who have not seen the veteran defender since a 3-0 loss against West Brom, last October that included an errant back pass from the defender.

Although it does beg the question why the player was handed a contract last summer after arriving on trial a year ago.

Birmingham City players wear t-shirts displaying the message ‘no to war’ before facing Bristol City.

It was 19-year-old Bell who played down the right flank for the Robins on the weekend, who was explained before the match on the official club YouTube channel as playing all of his career so far as down the middle of the pitch, before coming into the senior picture in a wide position and then making his first start this season at full-back.

A three-hour tactical session with father Micky saw Bell junior prepped for his first start of the 2020/21 campaign before Middlesbrough in an unfamiliar role. It was a good showing from Bell junior that day, but arguably it sums up how the Robins are short of a natural right-back.

With Simpson departed, as reported over the weekend, the hunt for a new wing-back begins in earnest.

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Meanwhile, the club have announced that MansionBet will finish as the club’s principal sponsor from April, following the betting brand ceasing trading as of 31 March 2022 to focus directly on their casino brands.