With the odds on his sacking shortening by the match, Steve Bruce has appealed to Birmingham City's supporters to set aside any enmity they have towards him and get behind his players ahead of tonight's crucial Championship match with Norwich City.

The Birmingham manager, who was the subject of torrents of abuse in radio phone-ins and on supporters' messageboards following Saturday's defeat at Luton Town, yesterday urged the club's followers to focus their undoubted passion on shouting the team to a much needed first win in five games.

The weekend's 3-2 reverse at Kenilworth Road saw City slip from second in the table to seventh and left Bruce as the second favourite - behind Hull City's Phil Parkinson - to be relieved of his duties, unless results pick up.

But the former Manchester United defender says he knows all about the pressure and was less inclined to talk about his own position, than that of a team he insists 'are nearly there' and the fact that he wants St Andrew's to help them arrive this evening.

"This is a rallying cry for them [the supporters] to get behind a new team," said Bruce. "I understand their feelings towards myself or maybe the team of old but this is a new, young team who needs their support - never more so than tomorrow.

"I suppose I knew in the summer how difficult it was going to be. I wanted to build a new team and I think we are really close to having a good team, very quickly.

"I have had a great rapport with the supporters over the years but if ever I need them - whatever their feelings are for me - I need them to help the players we have got. We have got a lot of young players.

"[Stephen] Kelly, [Mat] Sadler, [Fabrice] Muamba, [Neil] Kilkenny, [Sebastian] Larsson, [Gary] McSheffrey to an extent and Cameron Jerome are all young and will serve the club brilliantly over the years, I am sure they will. We need that support to be transferred to them."

But as regards his own job, he claimed he was unconcerned about the reception he might receive tonight and said his current situation was just another typical week in the life of the average football manager.

"From my own personal point of view, it is just football," he continued. "Paul Jewell and Alan Pardew were managers of the year last year. You know it is round the corner.

"The way the game is now if you lose, in six weeks it can turn around. We are all under pressure, I have got to live will that, you do when you become a manager.

"Of course we need a couple of results but whether I am under any pressure you have to ask other people than me. I haven't really had any indication that I am.

"Am I heck concerned about the reception I will get? The vast majority of the support here has been fantastic, I can understand the disappointment and the hangover from last season.

"I knew this was going to be the most difficult of when you get relegated. It is not easy, history and statistics all tell you that - I can understand why now."

To be fair to Bruce, Birmingham do appear to be masters of their own destiny. For long periods against Luton they showed the ability to dominate a good side on their own pitch.

But the now customary defensive gaffes were there - poor marking cost the visitors a goal from a set-piece - as were a couple of debateable penalty decisions, both of which went against Blues.

Bruce hopes the return of both David Dunn and Nicklas Bendtner will improve Birmingham's prospects of their first home league victory since September 9.

Although he didn't make the trip to Luton, Dunn has trained all weekend and both he and the Dane should be fit enough to start against Norwich, as will Stephen Clemence.

Cameron Jerome will not be unduly inconvenienced by the calf problem that led to his withdrawal on Saturday but Mikael Forssell has aggravated a knee injury.

Meanwhile, website bet365 have updated their sack race market with Parkinson and Bruce clear of their rivals. The former the 6/4 favourite, with Bruce quoted as 11/4. Andy Ritchie is third at 9/1.

Spokesman for the company, Steve Freeth, did little to defuse the situation, saying: "The Blues board and fans are expecting nothing less than automatic promotion back to the Premiership with the squad that Bruce has at his disposal."

"Albion have flourished since the dismissal of the negative Robson - anything less than a home win against Norwich on Tuesday could see Birmingham taking the same action."

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