Alex McLeish will continue to rely on star pupils Sebastian Larsson and James McFadden for the Boxing Day match at Ipswich Town.

Birmingham City’s so-called big two failed to show up for last weekend’s morale-denting defeat to Reading at St Andrew’s and McLeish has since admitted that the international duo were not fully fit.

However McLeish insists that Larsson is over his niggling groin injury having been nurtured this week while the ill-effects of McFadden’s stomach bug have cleared and, in his manager’s own words, a ‘huge impression’ is needed from the Scotland international at Portman Road.

Elsewhere Liam Ridgewell, arguably Birmingham’s best-performing defender so far this season, returns to McLeish’s back line having served his one-match suspension for the Reading match.

The former Aston Villa man is likely to return at centre-half to partner Radhi Jaidi while Franck Queudrue will be moved back to his favoured left-back position in place of David Murphy.

McLeish has also not completely ruled out a cameo role for club captain Damien Johnson during the forthcoming fixture pile-up although the Birmingham manager does admit that the Northern Ireland midfielder is still in need of two or three warm-up games.

Blues have also extended the loan of midfielder Nigel Quashie into a third month.

The West Ham United player will be available up to and including Birmingham’s Championship home fixture against Cardiff City on January 17.