Birmingham City’s focus returns to their all-important Championship promotion race this weekend with a trip to Blackpool on Saturday.
Following the debacle of their postponed FA Cup third-round tie last weekend, Alex McLeish’s troops will be refreshed and aiming to overturn Reading in second before eventually toppling Wolverhampton Wanderers from the summit of the Championship.
While the Blues are right to be looking forward at those who sit in pole position for promotion, marksmen Kevin Phillips has warned Birmingham of the perils that lurk behind them.
Reading and Wolves may be on the radar and rightfully so but according to the former England striker, Birmingham should also be looking over their shoulder.
The current season is approaching the time of year when a dark horse begins to gallop and that nag could be one of several candidates.
Cardiff City, Burnley and Sheffield United occupy the play-off places while it would be foolish to ignore the threat of Preston North End and Crystal Palace.
Queens Park Rangers are already starting to show signs of using their hefty financial muscle in the January transfer window and there is no doubt that the west Londoners will already be aiming to break into the all-conquering trio of Wolves, Reading and Birmingham.
Whoever it may be, top scorer Phillips is warning Birmingham to be on their guard.
“There’s always one team that does come from nowhere,” said Phillips, who has scored 11 goals so far this season.
“Burnley have been going steadily this season, so that’s another reason why it is important for us to keep on picking up the three points; we don’t want them to start getting a sniff of us.
“Reading could lose this weekend (to Watford), we could win and go straight back above them. For me it’s going to go all the way until the end of the season unless one of the teams from the top three put an unbelievable run together but I still feel that there are a lot of twists and turns to be had.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot this season with injuries and illnesses, hopefully we can put that behind us now and start moving on.”
At least there won’t be a repeat next season of last Saturday’s FA Cup postponement at St Andrew’s, due to a frozen pitch, after the club’s board moved quickly to address the issue of, or lack of, undersoil heating.
Birmingham announced that, as part of their ‘New Year..New Start’ campaign, they will install undersoil heating during the closed season regardless of divisional status.
This decision has been taken after the club listened to feedback from their supporters following the postponement of the third-round tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“It is important that we listen to our supporters,” said David Sullivan, chairman of Birmingham City FC’s PLC. “In the past we have allocated all funds to bringing in players to achieve promotion or maintain Premier League status, but supporters want to see things happening off the pitch as well as on it and we will find the balance needed to do this.
“I promise that we are listening and, most importantly, taking action where we can.”