Steve Bruce may be keeping his counsel regarding the return of Robbie Savage tonight but there is no such reticence from Birmingham City's chairman, David Gold.

There promises to be a powder-keg atmosphere at St Andrew's as the man who was once adored by Blues fans, but is now reviled in large measure, returns to Birmingham for the first time since his acrimonious transfer.

Gold has refused to offer Savage any sort of olive branch as he arrives with Blackburn chasing a Champions' League spot and Birmingham fighting against relegation.

Gold has described the actions of the former Wales international as 'unforgivable' after he moved to Blackburn Rovers during last season's January transfer window.

Savage had claimed that he wanted to move closer to his parents' home in north Wales and therefore had made the switch to Ewood Park for personal reasons.

However, his tenuous reasons for wanting to depart Birmingham were proven to be flawed when it emerged that the difference in distance from Wrexham was only two miles.

He also claimed that his house had come under attack from disgruntled Birmingham supporters, which is only conjecture.

Birmingham officials then exchanged puzzled glances following Savage's assertions that a vicious hate campaign had been started against him by Blues fans.

There is no doubting Savage's ability but he hardly endeared himself to Birmingham supporters with a show of posturing during and after Blackburn's 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Ewood Park in October.

Gold is particularly aggrieved because, after much protracted wrangling, he approved a new four-year deal that Savage signed only five months before upping sticks to Blackburn.

He said: "I feel Robbie let me down. For two-and-a-half years, he was fantastic.

"I enjoyed watching him. I enjoyed his banter and I had a great relationship with him. We'd seek each other out but I have to say I was extremely disappointed when he orchestrated his move, despite signing a four-year contract, which I find unforgivable.

"I wouldn't have done it to him but he did it to me, to our fans and to Birmingham City Football Club.

"We've not spoken since. I would have held him in higher regard if he'd just said: 'Look, I want to move' and not given me all that stuff about wanting to be closer to his family, which was nonsense.

"He broke a contract. That's something I've never done in my life and I found it very hard to take."

While Blues' manager Bruce may be an admirer of Savage's ability on the pitch, there is no disguising the fact he holds him in contempt for the way he engineered his transfer.

However, he also holds Mark Bowen culpable after their relationship broke down irreparably the previous summer. Bowen left St Andrew's as Bruce's No 2 to embark on a similar role at Blackburn.

This scenario has been bubbling under the surface for 12 months after Bruce blocked Savage from playing in the corresponding fixture last season as a condition of the transfer.

Rovers boss Mark Hughes expressed his annoyance that Savage was denied the opportunity to play, but there will be no complications tonight and he has now adopted a far more conciliatory stance.

Hughes said: "A lot of water has gone under the bridge since his move and both clubs have moved on and find themselves in different situations now.

"We have things to play for (Europe), while they are desperate for points.

"That will be very much at the forefront of their thoughts, rather than any issues they may or may not have with Robbie Savage.

"I think they will be a lot more concerned with their own situation rather than the presence of Robbie.

"Even if they do have a go, that sort of thing never bothers him anyway."

Bruce refused to be drawn into a war of words regarding the effervescent midfielder and doused the flames by concentrating on football matters.

"He [Savage] was good when he was here," said Bruce. "He was very popular with the fans. It's disappointing the way it finished."

Bruce is more concerned over the fitness of leading scorer Jiri Jarosik. The Czech Republic international missed Sunday's derby defeat against Aston Villa after complaining of a tight hamstring and he is rated at 50-50 to play.

Matthew Upson and David Dunn are definitely out, but Bruce has been given a fillip with Portsmouth's unexpected defeat by Charlton Athletic on Monday.

"I went to Coventry on Monday because I couldn't bear to watch what was happening at Charlton," said Bruce. "I heard the score at half-time and when it flashed back to the Valley later, it all seemed a bit nervy.

"I'm sure [Pompey manager] Harry [Redknapp] and [West Bromwich Albion's] Bryan [Robson] are the same, monitoring the other scores.

"But we have to take advantage of Portsmouth's defeat. I'm sure there will be a few twists and turns but the ball is in our court. We really need to win this game but Blackburn are having a fantastic season and are going for Europe. The crowd will play a massive part. We need a cracking atmosphere."

For Blackburn, Craig Bellamy is fit, despite a kick on his thigh on Sunday against Liverpool, while Florent Sinama Pongolle may start after he was ineligible to play against his former club.