“I think we’re the best team in the league, 100 per cent,” he says ahead of this afternoon’s visit from John Sheridan’s Swindon Town. “There’s other good teams and players but we’re the best.
“Anything other than promotion would not be good enough with the players we have.”
That confidence explains why a player who left Birmingham City to get game-time joined a squad full of depth.
The 23-year-old began in Aston Villa’s youth system alongside Jack Grealish, a former Gaelic football opponent in the Midlands, and moved to Arsenal after impressing Arsene Wenger. Crowley played first-team football as a Gunner, but only on loan at Barnsley, Oxford United and Go Ahead Eagles. A move to Willem II and loan at Cambuur preceded joining Birmingham in 2019.
So was it a gamble coming to a club where regular football is far from guaranteed?
“I back myself to get in the team,” he replies. “If I’m not on it in training someone’s going to take my place so I know I have to give everything in training.”
So far he has been limited to three substitute appearances.
“That’s probably because of the form of Keane (Lewis-Potter), Malik (Wilks), George (Honeyman) and Doc (Greg Docherty),” explains coach Grant McCann. “But in the games he’s come on we’ve seen his quality, how good he is on the ball, how he finds pockets of space, how quick he is – his feet are excellent. He could keep the ball off you in a phonebox.”
Frozen out by Aitor Karanka, Crowley’s last Birmingham appearance was against Sheffield Wednesday in October.
“In my head I want to play straight away, but I wasn’t as fit as the boys who have been playing all season so I have to be patient,” he says. “I have to give myself the chance to get up to their fitness.”
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