Richard Beale praised Ronan Hale for ‘really knuckling down’ in the build up to his goalscoring return to Birmingham City’s Under 23s.

The Republic of Ireland striker scored for the first time since August when he found the net twice in the Premier League Cup victory at Middlesbrough on Monday night.

It was a reminder of the youngster’s outstanding ability which saw him plunder more than 30 goals for the Under 18s in his first season at the club.

Kyle McFarlane has been the Under 23s’ most reliable source of goals so far this term - but Beale was pleased to see Hale have his say.

Birmingham City's development coach Richard Beale

“Ronan has really knuckled down these past few weeks. He has worked very, very hard and that’s what’s expected as a minimum requirement,” the Senior Professional Development coach told bcfc.com .

“If he is prepared to work hard then it’s no coincidence he will get more chances. We know if he gets into the positions he is able to finish.

“He scored his goals and could have had more through his work rate, first and foremost - deservedly so."

Birmingham City striker Ronan Hale

Indeed Beale was happy with his whole team’s display, particularly in the second half as they chased down a 1-0 deficit.

“It was a very pleasing performance, a very good performance, against a very strong side who are top of their league.

“We weren’t really at it in the first-half but, like the Leeds United game last Friday, in the second-half we competed much better for the first ball, the seconds, we dominated possession and were clinical.

“We were worthy of the win and we ran all over them second-half, in truth.

“Daniel Cleary and Steve Seddon were very sold in the heart of the defence and I thought Corey O’Keeffe was outstanding, particularly in the second-half.”