Birmingham City go into their match at home to Newcastle United on Saturday knowing that they could be relegated to the Coca-Cola Championship if they fail to win. Incentives hardly come greater than that.

If Portsmouth defeat Wigan Athletic at the JJB Stadium, Birmingham would have to pick up the three points at St Andrew's on the same day to remain in the hunt for Premiership survival and take the battle to the final weekend.

This situation is making it a nervous time for Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, who is hoping for "lady luck" to intervene on his behalf. There are, he says, "still twists to come".

Birmingham occupy 18th position in the Premiership, two points behind Portsmouth who occupy 17th. Realistically, Birmingham need to defeat Newcastle on Saturday and Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on May 7 to survive.

The Birmingham players remain unable to talk about the battle to avoid relegation - Bruce has banned his squad from conducting press interviews - but their counterparts from Portsmouth seem to be exuding confidence.

While Birmingham were drawing 0-0 away to Everton last Saturday, in a drab match, Portsmouth were overturning a one-goal deficit to win 2-1 against Sunderland. That was when Portsmouth regained the initiative.

Indeed, at least one Portsmouth player is talking of sending Birmingham down on Saturday, making the final weekend of the season effectively immaterial.

Matthew Taylor, whose winning goal for Portsmouth against Sunderland made it a miserable weekend for Bruce, does not want the relegation issue to be decided on the final day of the season, when his team face Liverpool at home.

Taylor's rates his late penalty winner against Sunder-land as the pinnacle of his career, with Portsmouth holding on for a 2-1 victory after being a goal down with 20

minutes remaining. "To score in front of passionate fans like that is something I will remember for the rest of my life," he said. "The fans kept us going. If it wasn't for them we would have faltered.

"Now we want to give them more to cheer. We may need two wins but it would be good to earn our place in the Premiership on Saturday. It was the best moment of my career. And it is certainly the most important goal of my career.

"As soon as I saw the ball handled in the area I grabbed it. I wasn't going to let anybody rip it off me like Toddy [Svetoslav Todorov] did in the Carling Cup at Gillingham this season. Besides, he missed that time."

Bruce is hoping that Emile Heskey and Jermaine Pennant, who both played against Everton while not fully recovered from injury, will be 100 per cent fit to face Newcastle.

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, is waiting to find out if Lomana LuaLua and Pedro Mendes will be back from injuries for the clash with Wigan. LuaLua has been out after injuring himself celebrating an equaliser against Arsenal, while Mendes has a thigh complaint.

Of Mendes's injury, Red-knapp said: "If he had played against Sunderland it could have popped at any minute and ruled him out for eight weeks.

"But he has a week's rest now and we'll see how he is. He could play against Wigan. Let's hope so, he's been a star for us. His goals against Manchester City and West Ham were vital.

"Gary O'Neil and Dejan Stefanovic needed injections to play on Saturday. Gary could not feel his foot and it was the same with Dejan with his thigh.

"Although LuaLua had an injection as well, he was still in a lot of pain."