Steve Bruce needs to be bold in his selection policy if Birmingham City are to extinguish Newcastle's lingering Uefa Cup hopes and preserve their own Premiership status.

Nine points from their last six Premiership fixtures has kept Birmingham's season alive and they are hanging on the coat tails of Portsmouth.

However, a home victory against Newcastle on Saturday could catapult them out of the relegation zone with only one fixture remaining.

Newcastle are on on the cusp of a surprise Uefa Cup place after a renaissance under the temporary stewardship of Glenn Roeder.

Five successive victories, including a comprehensive dismantling of West Bromwich Albion last Saturday, has helped reinvigorate the Magpies but there are still major flaws that can be exposed.

Charles N'Zogbia, Nolberto Solano and Liam Pattison are tidy footballers but they won't relish an uncomfortable afternoon against robust tactics.

Stephen Carr and Celestine Babayaro look suspect defensively while Titus Bramble has a propensity to shoot himself in the foot on a regular basis.

If Bruce, the Birmingham manager, takes the bull by the horns and throws Jiri Jarosik into central midfield then it could be an uncomfortable afternoon for Newcastle.

With Damien Johnson scurrying around in central midfield and Julian Gray potentially terrorising Carr, it could be a productive 90 minutes.

Bruce has understandably been reluctant to use two wingers after their insipid start to the campaign but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Jarosik always performs far better in front of a vibrant home crowd and there is no doubt that St Andrew's is more vocal at a traditional kick-off time than not.

This could be their biggest weapon on Saturday as it is their first home kick-off at 3pm since Sunderland were swatted aside on February 25.

A tense, eerie atmosphere permeated St Andrew's for their last fixture against Blackburn but there will be a discernible contrast against Newcastle.

Bruce will be relishing the thought of subjecting Newcastle to a torrid afternoon but says falling attendances are a worrying trend.

He said: "I can remember the atmosphere for our first Premiership fixture against Villa. I have never experienced anything like that in an English football ground. It was unbelievable.

"The powers that be will have to get together, as we are all alarmed that clubs aren't filling their stadiums.

"It is an accumulation of things. The average man in the street is what football is about and we are going away from that with the prices. There are a lot of factors and there is a lot of football on television. If you are a season ticket-holder now, how often do you play at three o'clock on a Saturday?

"There are games at midday, five o'clock, Sunday and Monday. Payers are used to it but it has an effect on the average family man who plans his weekend around football on a Saturday afternoon. It is all over the shop. I don't think it (attendances) is down to the entertainment. There are something like 186 live games now but two years ago there were 50; we have to be careful."

Bruce's words will strike a chord with Birmingham supporters who have lamented the passing of a Saturday 3pm kick-off.

An energetic approach is required if Birmingham are to destabilise Newcastle - the auguries are good with a rejuvenated squad and noisy supporters. Bruce may persist with the Emile Heskey-Chris Sutton part-nership in attack but Mikael Forssell, as he proved against Black-burn, is still the most likely of all the strikers to score and could be deserving of a start due to his extra mobility.