Neil Danns could not have accomplished it better if he had arranged the League Cup draw himself.

 "Liverpool at home," the Birmingham City midfield player said, licking his lips. "Perfect."

Danns grew up in Liverpool, began his career with Liverpool and regards himself as a Reds fan, so it is little wonder that this is his match of choice.

But, he says, professionalism will take over if he is given a place in the team when the two teams meet in the fourth round at St Andrew's on November 8.

"It is funny, but the last time Birmingham played Liverpool, I was watching on television and screaming every time Liverpool scored," Danns said. That was when Liverpool won 7-0 at St Andrew's in the FA Cup sixth round last March.

Six months on, his attitude will be different. "I am a Birmingham player now and victory is all I will be interested in, but my friends might have something to say about that.

"To be honest, I regard it is a privilege to play for Birmingham City and I am delighted every time I pull on that shirt to play for the first team. But I have never played against Liverpool, so hopefully this will fulfil a dream for me."

The draw has paired Aston Villa with Chelsea, a match that will take place at Stamford Bridge, also on November 8. Gareth Barry, the Villa captain, called it "the toughest draw we could possibly have received". But Villa drew 1-1 away to Chelsea this season.

Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, was already predicting that his team would face Liverpool, even before the draw was made.

"I just felt it," he said. "And then, when Notts County and Wycombe Wanderers were first out of the hat, I just knew we would be playing Liverpool. That 7-0 defeat last season was a bad night for me, but not the worst. Our defeat to Norwich City last week was worse for me."

These are strange times for Birmingham. A week ago, after that 1-0 defeat to Norwich, Bruce seemed to be a dead man walking. Now, after victories against Derby County in the Championship and Sheffield United in the League Cup, he has found breathing space. Even the players can breathe easier.

"What a difference a week makes," Danns said. "But I think Stephen Clemence's goal that won the match against Derby was the turning point for us. I certainly hope it is. We have felt much more confident since then.

"We have gone from one extreme to the other. Everything was doom and gloom and now things are looking up again. The fans are happy, which is important. We let Steve Bruce down after the Norwich match.

"The gaffer is always positive and always gives us the right advice. Coming from the Premiership to the Championship, it is two different types of games. It is not nice when the manager is under pressure and we are involved in that."

Birmingham play at home to West Bromwich tomorrow and Danns says the teams have much in common. "West Brom are similar to us in that they did not start as well as they would have liked," Danns said.

 "They did not have the best of starts but now they are playing well and bombing at the moment."

 Bruce rates the quality of Albion's squad and says there are few better outside the Premiership.

 "I told my players that if we finish above West Brom, we will be promoted, simple as that," he said. "They are strong, they are powerful and they have hung on to most of their players. They are the team to beat in this division, but I don't see the division taking shape until the end of January."