Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is unlikely to make drastic changes to his starting line-up for tonight’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Fresh from an extended break from Championship fixtures, McLeish’s side return to their quest for promotion to the Premier League virtually back to full strength.
Tonight’s fixture at St Andrew’s, the 124th meeting between Blues and Wolves, is likely to have an impact on where the Championship title is lifted at the end of the season.
While McLeish is going all out to secure his first piece of silverware in English football, he is unlikely to make any desperate changes to the team that drew with Norwich City over two weeks ago.
Despite that disappointing draw, the Birmingham manager has still been pleased with his players’ efforts in a run of form that has taken in five matches without defeat.
McLeish admits that he has some decisions to make ahead of tonight’s top-of-the-table clash, most notably whether to involve fit-again talisman James McFadden, but the Scotsman is unlikely to start any of his returnees from the off.
The Birmingham manager admitted: “We do have food for thought with McFadden, (Marcus) Bent, (Stuart) Parnaby, (Djimi) Traore and Kemy Agustien – all these guys are available again.
“It will be a case of how they look in training. They’ve looked OK so far but where do I fit them in given the decent performances of the players in recent games.
“McFadden is bursting to get back in and of course with a player of his ability then I can’t ignore that if I think that he is at a very good level.
“It’s doubtful that any of them will start unless we have massive problems. I’m not seeing them starting the game.”
Across the West Midlands, Mick McCarthy’s Wolves have had their injury trouble after key man Michael Kightly sustained a broken metatarsal in training last Tuesday.
However McLeish doesn’t believe that Kightly’s absence will have much of a bearing on this evening’s important fixture.
“You don’t like to wish an injury on anybody but we know that Kightly has been a key player for Wolves this season but I don’t think it will make a huge dent in their armoury because they have good players there.
“(David) Edwards can come in and play on the flank as can (Matthew) Jarvis, who I think is close to fitness. They are not at the top of the league because the they are a bad team. They are there on merit, that’s the challenge for us, to catch Wolves and try and overtake them before the end of the season.”
Third-placed Reading’s goal-less draw at Coventry City on Saturday has given Blues an extra boost as they should gain extra breathing space in the Championship’s automatic promotion spots should they secure victory tonight.
Yet McLeish believes that Reading’s disappointment shouldn’t spur his players on as the fixture alone brings more than enough motivation.
“I don’t think they should be needing any more motivation for a game like this, regardless of results at the weekend. Our players have got to be highly motivated and know that this is a game that could help to define their season, I’m not saying it will define their season but it could help and it would be a big stepping stone and a bit shot in the arm if we were to win it.”