It has been an incongruous week at Birmingham City with the most unlikely of heroes being feted by the Spion Kop.

It was a grim picture last Thursday with the obituaries on their season being prepared.

Two stirring performances, against Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers, has hauled them out of the Premiership relegation zone for the first time since mid-October and the landscape has visibly changed.

Against the usual backdrop of injuries, Steve Bruce, the manager, has been forced to call on players who were so much in the cold that they were suffering from chilblains.

Olivier Tebily has undoubtedly been the star of the show with a feisty, disciplined display at full-back that has been the catalyst for their improvement.

Jiri Jarosik was a behemoth in the engine room against Bolton on Tuesday evening with the complete central midfield performance and Damien Johnson was at his ubiquitous best.

Martin Taylor was a rock at centre-half after being pilloried for his role in the Liverpool debacle but the unsung hero was Matt Sadler.

After four years in the wilderness due to injury problems and being out of favour, the 21-year-old has left an indelible mark on proceedings in his last two appearances.

In fact, so impressive has his return to first-team action been that Bruce may well have found the answer to a long-term problem right under his nose.

Jamie Clapham, Stan Lazaridis, Julian Gray, Marcos Painter and Tebily have all filled in at left-back this season but Sadler is the most natural left-back at the club.

Tenacious, committed and with unquestionable quality on the ball, Sadler has given an insight into why he received so much adulation as a teenager.

An ankle injury and an abortive loan spell at Northampton Town under-mined his confidence and, as he fell further down the pecking order, the future looked bleak for Sadler.

But after rebuffing the trickery of Chelsea and the brute force of Bolton, he has proved he is suitab l y equipped for any of the challenges on offer in the Premiership.

Yet Academy director Richard Stevens is not in the least bit surprised at the impact Sadler has made after a four-year hiatus.

S tevens,along with his predecessors Stewart Hall and Brian Eastick, has witnessed the latent talent Sadler has to offer from an early age.

"As a 16-year-old, Matt was regarded as one of the best left-backs in the country by England's coaches," Stevens said.

"That is why he was given a chance as a 17-year-old at Blues and he has grown up into a man now.

"There are two sorts of players who break into first teams. You have the likes of Wayne Rooney who make an impact at the age of 17 and the next group who develop for three years within the system and reappear even stronger.

"I think Matt is going to be one of those as he is a decent physical specimen and likely to grow even more."

Bruce earmarked Sadler as one to watch when he handed him his Premiership debut, against Bolton, on November 11 2002.

A well-documented tussle with David Beckham followed at Old Trafford before Sadler disappeared due to a succession of ankle injuries. Even a loan spell at Sixfields couldn't revitalise his career.

Nevertheless, Stevens believes two seasons of toil has had a galvanising effect on Sadler. "Matt has been at the club for about ten years and has developed into a left-back with pace who is excellent at defending in a one-onone situation," Stevens said. "He is probably still feeling his way in at present but he is capable of getting forward and delivering an excellent cross as well.

"He had so much so young that he struggled to deal with being injured for two years.

"Matt has always set himself really high standards and injuries test you to the limit. He didn't have the answers to his questions but I know he is buzzing once again.

"He's quite laid back and can be misunderstood, I think, as he is a very focused individual.

"Now that he is playing again he will feel valued at the club. I know he wants to succeed as he told me that he was nervous for the first time in his career prior to the Chelsea game. That can only be a good thing as he responded in the right fashion."

Meanwhile, Blues skipper Kenny Cunningham says a phone call to David Sullivan has patched up the rift between the co-owner and the playing staff.

Sullivan's now infamous broadside after the Liverpool defeat included statements such as 'I don't like footballers."

But it was believed the comments that upset the squad more than any other was the intimation that they failed to turn up for public functions. Cunningham called Sullivan directly to voice his opinion strongly. The skipper, inspirational against Bolton, said the matter had been resolved amicably.