Alex McLeish is not the kind of man to make a drama out of a crisis.
In fact, he rarely does drama.
So that’s why the permutations tomorrow when his Birmingham City side take on Reading in a top-of-the-table fixture at St Andrew’s do not concern him either way.
If Blues defeat Reading, they will open up a four-point gap; if they lose, they will be replaced in the Championship’s top two for the first time mid-September.
“That’s not something to concern ourselves about,” said the Blues manager. “If we win on Saturday then of course it would be great, and give us a big boost. The same would apply to Reading if they won.
“But nothing is decided in December. There’s still such a long way to go this season, we’ve just reached halfway.
“It’s about putting on a performance on Saturday that is good enough to get us the three points, and the fact we are playing one of our rivals should act as motivation for us to do well.”
Blues could have forward James McFadden available again after a groin injury. Winger Sebastian Larsson, another recent absentee, also has a chance of returning following his groin problem.Striker Garry O’Connor, however, has suffered a setback during his rehabilitation from injury.
O’Connor will be sidelined for around two months after undergoing surgery on his groin.
McLeish said: “We have taken our time and consulted specialists on this matter as it was initially thought that rehab alone would cure the problem.
“However, the injury has been niggling Garry and it was decided that he should have the operation.”
Defender Liam Ridgewell is suspended and likely to be replaced by Martin Taylor.
McLeish has asked for more of a cutting edge from his side, whose approach play has been tidy until the 18-yard line has been reached.
He said: “I’m looking for an improvement there. We need more of a threat in the box.”
McLeish has also told the Blues fans that they can make a difference.
The club are hoping for a sizeable crowd on what is traditionally one of the worst days for football attendances: the last Saturday before Christmas.
An offer has been running for some weeks now whereby anyone who purchases a seat for the visit of Swansea City on December 28 gets a free ticket for the Reading match.
During Blues’ last home game, the 3-2 win over Watford, the passions were stirred, recalled McLeish. “The fans were rampant, even though we weren’t possibly playing as well as we can play.
"They were very vociferous. We’re trying o go for a championship here, Premier League status, history tells you when you have really vibrant support, it does two things: it helps the players of thehome team and makes the opposition – who have arrived a little bit apprehensive – that bit more nervous.”
Reading have shown that they can stand the heat. They went to leaders Wolves in September and came away with a 3-0 victory.
Stephen Hunt said Reading were keen to strike a telling blow by winning, but the outcome was not the be-all and end-all.
“The incentive is to go above them which would be very nice,” said the influential midfielder. “But at the moment they are better than us because the league table says they are better. I’ve always believed you are where you deserve to be.
"Wolves are top because they’re winning the most games and playing the best football at the moment and credit to them. But it’s a long season and we will see what happens.”