Ian Clarkson on how the Blues winger is winning his fitness battle...

Birmingham's treatment room has resembled New Street Station over the last 12 months, but one of its regular clients looks set to finally leave.

All the recent hype and fanfare has been over David Dunn's projected return, but the sight of Stan Lazaridis in full flight is still one of the most exhilarating at St Andrew's.

The Australian international could well be on the bench for tomorrow's gruelling trip to Portsmouth after coming through a reserve game unscathed on Monday evening.

The long-serving winger - he has spent six years at St Andrew's - is one of a gaggle of players who has been put in cold storage by Steve Bruce while he recovers from groin and hamstring injuries.

He has only made a solitary start, against Middlesbrough, this season and the 33-year-old veteran has revealed how the appliance of science will prolong his career.

" The manger has developed a specific programme for me," said Lazaridis. "If players train four days a week, then I will only train with them for three days and spend the other day with our physiotherapist.

"It isn't a day off, but it gives me an opportunity to work to a set programme and improve my flexibility and lessen the chance of the injury recurring.

"Kieron Dyer undergoes a similar programme at Newcastle because of his hamstrings and it is no coincidence it happens to explosive players such as David Dunn and myself.

"I rely on my pace when I play and it is pointless undertaking 1,000 sprints during the week if it means that I am injured at the weekend."

Lazaridis and Dunn have been sorely missed by Birmingham this season, as creative juices haven't flowed in their absence

He might be in the latter stages of his career, but Lazaridis is still capable of enticing supporters through the turnstiles with his rampaging style of play.

Birmingham have huffed and puffed but have been unable to blow opponents over on a regular basis this term, as the cutting edge that Dunn and Lazaridis can offer has been trapped in the treatment room.

And, while Lazaridis recognises the severity of the situation, he isn't prepared to compromise his future welfare by rushing back to the Premiership pressure-cooker prematurely.

"I could make the bench on Saturday, but it will be around three weeks until I have reached full matchfitness," continued Lazaridis.

"I travelled in to training with David today and we both agreed that it has been really frustrating.

"However, he can now see light at the end of the tunnel and could well be back in five weeks, but we have to be sensible.

"I know what supporters want to see when I get the ball and I want to be able to deliver it so, if that takes a week longer, then so be it."

Lazaridis has adopted a philosophical approach to his injury as he reasons virtually all players are beset by injuries at various stages of their careers.

Unfortunately for Bruce, a large portion of his squad has hit their respective brick walls simultaneously, which has resulted in Birmingham treading water for the opening five games of this campaign.

Nevertheless, Lazaridis is convinced that it is only a matter of time before Birmingham click into gear, as Bruce will not let them settle for second best.

"The atmosphere around the training ground is till really positive," added Lazaridis.

"We have been working harder than ever in the buildup to the Portsmouth game because the manager is so ambitious. He won't settle for the players just doing enough and insists the we try and improve every day.

"He knows that it isn't like the squad of three or four years ago where we just had a good work ethic, we have some real quality in this team and it is only a matter of time before we produce the goods.

"We can't keep going on like this as we were only really poor against Middlesbrough.

"We have had a lot of player only operating at around 80 per cent, but they are improving each week and the future is very bright."

It may be mid-September with autumn just around the corner, but Lazaridis knew that he would have to answer questions about England's glorious summer of cricket.

"I was waiting for that question," was his response when the subject of the Ashes was finally broached yet. Like his fellow countrymen, he took Australia's first defeat in 18 years magnanimously.

Lazaridis is a keen cricketer who often excels during Birmingham's annual preseason charity clash with Warwickshire and, like all Antipodeans, is passionate about sport.

But he confessed that England were worthy winners and remarked how he had enjoyed the carnival atmosphere all summer.

"From an English point of view it has been really uplifting," he admitted. "I think it is similar to the 2003 Rugby World Cup when the whole nation united in their support of the national team.

"Shane Warne and Andrew Flintoff have been the two best players on view, but I have got no complaints as we have been beaten by the better team.

"While most people are disappointed back home I think they realise England have outplayed us in four out of the five tests.

"But it has certainly rekindled the interest in the Ashes back in Australia and it promises to be an immense battle in 18 months time.

"I think Shane Warne will still be around, so England will have to play exceptionally well to retain the Ashes."