Joe Low could be the answer. The hulking unit of a centre-back has been playing well for Bristol City U21s after an injury hit 2021/22 campaign.
Robins boss Nigel Pearson has explained that he is in need of another central defender, and while Sol Bamba could offer a short-term fix, perhaps head of the academy Brian Tinnion can magic up another internal solution.
Through Tinnion’s fine work the club has the hugely exciting striker duo of Antoine Semenyo and Tommy Conway to enjoy.
Tinnion’s contacts helped deliver Semenyo from SGS Collge Filton, while Guernsey FC’s youngest ever player promptly joined up at Ashton Gate for a trial several months after his debut for the Green Lions.
Given Bristol City’s riches in attack, now the focus must be at the other end of the club, where there is little money to spend due to cost-cutting and the tight squeeze of the EFL’s Profitability and Sustainability rules.
Pearson has already explained previously that he would like another right-sided centre back, when discussing his recruitment priorities.
And Low could be it. The 20-year-old has stood out for the U21s side of late, with his late headed goal earning the unbeaten development side a late win against Sheffield Wednesday in the Professional Development League 2 on Monday.
Low’s decisive header made it four wins from five for the U21s, who reached the PDL2 playoff final last year, and the semi-finals of the competition the year before.
He has been captaining the second string side too, with another standout display coming in the 0-0 draw against the previously Category 1 Birmingham City U21s side (Bristol City are Category 2).
Low certainly has the build for the back, and he stands out for his physique. There would be no worries about the physical side of the game for him.
More the less tangible: some early red cards have marked his fledgling career, which has included loans at Dorchester Town and Eastleigh.
“I got sent off against Frome and then a month later, went on loan to them. I went there for experience and experienced my first red card but it wasn’t all bad,” he previously told this writer at a Wales U19s camp.
The former Bradley Stoke Youth player hopes to follow in the footsteps of dad Josh, who played for both Bristol Rovers and Bath City. Although Low senior was a right winger, where Low Junior also played in his youth, Joe has moved and settled into central defence, and he is certainly looking at home there.
Rising through the City ranks from the under-7s, Low could be another to get a breakthrough in the future, with a possible space in the senior side’s defence in the longer term.
He has already trained with the first team, as many of the U21s have, and along with the likes of Marlee Francois and Raphael Araoye, may be one to watch out for as the next wave of talent appears off the Ashton Gate production line.
With Ryley Towler and Duncan Idehen out on loan in League Two, at AFC Wimbledon and Carlisle United respectively, Pearson is well aware of what he has in-house and has shown that age and inexperience is no obstacle if the talent is there. Low may yet get his chance.