Steve Bruce's son could be in line to make a sensational debut for Birmingham City at the ground of his father's boyhood heroes.
Alex Bruce (pictured) has been recalled by Birmingham's manager from a loan spell at Tranmere Rovers and the club are waiting to find out whether they have received special dispensation to allow Bruce junior to play against Newcastle United at St James' Park.
It could be a fairytale debut for the 21-year-old who joined his father at St Andrew's in January this year and was immediately loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday, whom he helped clinch promotion to the Championship.
He joined Tranmere on loan at the start of this campaign and was to remain at Prenton Park until January 22 2006.
However, he was recalled last week after 12 matches and could be thrust into a Premiership debut against Newcastle tomorrow with Birmingham's injury crisis deepening.
Mario Melchiot, Stephen Clemence, Muzzy Izzet, Stan Lazaridis, David Dunn, Julian Gray, Mehdi Nafti and Damien Johnson are all out injured while the terms of Nicky Butt's loan deal rule him out of contention as well.
Bruce has already added young talent such as Marcos Painter and Matthew Birley and Bruce jnr will be drafted in if Birmingham can convince the necessary governing bodies that they have a genuine injury crisis; he is in the frame for a start due to the problematic nature of their right-back position.
Melchiot's knee injury pushed Olivier Tebily into that role but he had a torrid time and other candidates such as Johnson are injured too.
Kenny Cunningham or Martin Taylor could step into the breach but, special dispensation permitting, Bruce could make his debut at a stadium where his father used to spend his youth watching legends such as Malcolm Macdonald.
However, while it would be an emotional occasion for Bruce, buoyed by the form of Neil Kilkenny, he would have no hesitation over throwing another youngster into the fray.
"We have asked for special dispensation from the Premier League to see if Alex is allowed to join the squad," Bruce said.
"It is never easy to call your lad back and get him involved at any time but, because of the numbers we have got, then at least he has got around 40 (37) games of Football League experience behind him, which stands him in better stead than some others.
"Tebily has reported sick today so we might be forced to but I would have no qualms about throwing him in if we are allowed. We should know within the next 24 hours."
Bruce paid tribute to precocious teenage talent Kilkenny, who is guaranteed his first Premiership start away from St Andrew's after a man-of-the-match performance against Everton last week.
The gifted midfielder was the lone bright spark in a dismal afternoon for Birmingham and Bruce has challenged him to do the same at St James' Park.
"Kilkenny plays with no fear and there is a freshness and naivete about him," Bruce said. "He was our best player by a million miles last week and he was the best player on the park in the second half.
"He took the game by the scruff of neck and the big challenge for him is - can he go and do it at St James' Park?
"Mind you, he is a confident little bugger and he took his chance, so fair play to him. He has been a breath of fresh air.
"Neil has combined youthful energy with ability and there is no better sight than that."
Bruce has also drawn a line under the allegations that Jermaine Pennant was sent home from training last Sunday morning, allegedly worse for wear.
The club has declined to comment on the claims but it is understood that Pennant has been fined two weeks wages and given a chance to wipe the slate clean by Bruce. Bruce would only confirm that the incident had been dealt with internally.
He said: "Unfortunately it leaked out to the media but it has been dealt with and, as far as I'm concerned, the issue is closed. He has been punished but he is in the squad."