Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has backed his second-choice goalkeeper Colin Doyle to seamlessly step into the breach at Watford tomorrow.
Having seen the club’s appeal against Maik Taylor’s red-card versus Plymouth Argyle rejected by the Football Association, McLeish will now turn to a man who has been a virtual ever-present on his substitutes bench this season.
Apart from 64 minutes of the draw with Plymouth following Taylor’s dismissal, Doyle’s only other taste of first-team action this season was the Carling Cup fixtures with Wycombe Wanderers and Southampton last August.
However, Doyle is no rookie when it comes to Championship football. The one-cap Republic of Ireland international played a major role in Birmingham’s last successful promotion to the Premier League and also had a brief taste of top flight football last season.
It is for this reason and the trusted preparation from goalkeeping coach Dave Watson that McLeish has no qualms in playing the 23-year-old.
“Doyle has waited the whole season for his chance, he’s a good professional and he’s worked hard with Dave Watson,” said the Birmingham manager. “He’s got previous history in this division of doing well because he helped Birmingham go up two years ago. When he came in the other day he looked very confident,” said McLeish.
“I have no problems playing him. Doyle has remained focused and credit to Dave Watson, our goalkeeping coach, he keeps them on their toes and trains them hard every day.
“Doyley has been a good student and I think the big fella coming in won’t be fazed by it. He’s got a wee bit of temperament about him and he’s got the bottle.”
With the goalkeeping issue solving itself, McLeish also appears to already know who will fill in for Liam Ridgewell, following the centre-half’s broken left leg sustained against Plymouth.
McLeish has given the clearest indication that newly-crowned player-of-the-season Franck Queudrue will fill the void at Watford.
“Franck gives us the balance on the left side, he would be in poll position if he’s fit. We have played Tiny (Martin Taylor and Radhi (Jaidi) together and they’ve done well so there’s also that option but Franck is at a good level of fitness, when he plays too many games in quick succession then he can get a bit leggy but he seems to be in fairly fine form at the moment.
“Djimi (Traore) is available as well but I know the other lads more than I know Djimi so I have to go with what I really know. I know that Traore has got terrific experience and decent pedigree but I’ll be going with the players that I know.”
To keep their automatic promotion push on track, Birmingham will have to overcome a Watford side who have proven to be formidable opposition on home soil since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager.
The Hornets have not tasted defeat inside Vicarage Road for seven consecutive games but McLeish insists that something has got to give.
“Watford are going to see us as a scalp and I’d expect them to raise their game against Birmingham.
“They’ve had a resurgence under Brendan Rodgers and we don’t expect it to be easy there. They have a good record at home but somebody’s got to beat them there and why can’t it be us?”