Having enjoyed the jubilation of Monday night, Birmingham City could be facing desperation when they head to south-east London tomorrow.
Victory for Sheffeld United over Reading at the Madejski Stadium this evening would see the Blades leapfrog Birmingham into second place on goal difference.
While Birmingham would still have a game in hand on the Yorkshiremen, the realisation of being out of the automatic promotion places would add greater pressure to their Easter fixture schedule of two games in three days. It’s a prospect that would put Monday night’s 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the shade.
A trip to the Championship’s bottom-club Charlton Athletic may, on paper, be deemed as an easy three points for Birmingham.
But look a little closer and it’s clear to see that delving to the depths of The Valley Stadium to retrieve three points won’t be straightforward.
Stricken Charlton are a side playing with no pressure and ‘a nothing to lose’ attitude, the type of team that Birmingham have struggled against at times this season. A draw with Preston North End and a victory over Southampton suggests that while Charlton may be down, they’re certainly not out.
The emergence of Kevin Blackwell’s Sheffield United have made things all the more trickier for Alex McLeish’s promotion plan at St Andrew’s.
However, the Birmingham manager isn’t getting hot under the collar just yet.
“Sheffield United are coming up on the rails, aye,” admitted McLeish. “Someone has got to give on Friday night, they’ve got hard games coming up, we’ve all got hard games coming up.
“Five hard games, whatever happened against Wolves it was still going to be five hard games.
“I challenged the players to finish the season unbeaten, I’ve said that, and in that five games to go we need three or four wins.
“The players are entitled to be confident after that game (versus Wolves). The one thing that we won’t allow them to do is be conceited. They are entitled to go into the game with confidence but they know that they’ve got to earn the right against a Charlton side who are fighting really hard.”
McLeish has hinted that club captain Damien Johnson may be drafted in to replace suspended skipper Lee Carsley but it is still likely that Keith Fahey will be favoured to partner Lee Bowyer in the centre of midfield.
Meanwhile former Aston Villa player Ulises de la Cruz, who made just a solo substitute appearance during his month with Birmingham, has returned to pursue his football career in his homeland Ecuador, while out-on-loan Gary McSheffrey remains a Nottingham Forest player, despite reports to the contrary from the East Midlands club.