Patience is in short supply at Premiership football grounds these days, but Steve Bruce is preaching the virtue to Birmingham City's win-starved supporters, as his injury-plagued squad splutter into life.

Season-ticket holders at St Andrew's have witnessed three consecutive defeats and a paucity of good football so far this campaign, one half of enterprising play against Charlton apart.

However, in amongst the gloom, Bruce has seen a microcosm of light after their best 45 minutes of football this term, although it was ultimately unrewarding.

Injuries and Birmingham City seem to have been inextricably linked since Trevor Francis' reign and a collective groan could be heard around Small Heath when Emile Heskey and Mario Melchiot limped off last week.

With David Dunn still feeling his way back from a longterm injury, Mehdi Nafti sidelined for the season and a handful of other players still chasing match-sharpness, it has led to a disjointed start to the campaign.

But, quite bizarrely, they are still unbeaten on the road and Bruce will be expecting that record to still be intact after this Saturday's visit to Portsmouth.

The South coast club look destined to be involved in a relegation dogfight and Bruce is adamant Birmingham won't be joining them as the log-jam continues to ease in the treatment room.

"Our performances have been in fits and starts, but we have to get that consistency back into our game," said Bruce.

"Of course, you can argue that players coming back from injuries is a significant factor but, we are now into September, and we have to get over that.

"It hasn't been easy but we now have David Dunn training with us as well and he is a massive player for us, who we have been without since Christmas.

"We can't expect him to be jumping through hoops when he returns, though, so patience is a virtue. We knew that we had a big bulk of players injured, but I am not really looking for excuses/

"There is nothing worse than a bad start, especially if you lose your first three home games, but it tests your character, resolve and determination to put things right.

"We looked a lot better in the second half last week and there are a lot of contributing factors, as to why that happened.

"I played the same team and I can't remember the last time I did that. However, even that was disrupted after ten minutes."

Irrespective of whoever is in Birmingham's treatment room, Bruce is committed to his tried-and-trusted 4-4-2 formation.

England's manager Sven Goran Eriksson has been pilloried from all quarters after his new-found tactical wizardry blew up in his face following their shambolic performances in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Chelsea, Charlton, Bolton and Everton to name but a few are all operating with a lone striker now and, while it makes football about as interesting as Jordan's wedding, it can be ruthlessly effective.

"I think there is too much talk about systems and tactics," continued Bruce.

"Four-five-one seems to be the flavour of the month at present and, for many years, 4-4-2 was the way of all teams in the Premiership.

"A lot of teams are doing it, especially away from home, as it is very difficult to break down because the midfield area is congested with a lot of players.

"I am still in favour of a 4-4-2 system although we have adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation on occasions, which is similar.

"You can play either David Dunn or Muzzy Izzet in that role and we have done it on the road before.

"Is it the right thing or is it the wrong thing? If you look at our results on the road, then we had success in a 4-4-2 formation against Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, regardless of the system they adopted.

"It might be something we look at in the future if results don't go our way, but certainly not at present."