Filling a Jonathan Grounds shaped hole
On the face of it, Jonathan Grounds` absence leaves a big hole on the left hand side of Blues` defence. The 29 year-old has proved himself to be Mr. Reliable. His 169 appearances since signing from Oldham in 2014 highlight his dependability.
Rob Wildey looks into the options available to Steve Cotterill.
Sure, Grounds is a massive loss. He`s an ever present in the back four (or sometimes five) and does a sterling job. He`s always a seven out of ten - guaranteed. But what happens when he`s not available?
You`d assume that Cohen Bramall is the obvious choice to slot in at left back. The young Arsenal loanee has thrust himself back into contention with some bright displays recently and coped very well when replacing Grounds at Hillsborough.
But while there is no questioning Bramall as an athlete or a technical footballer, doubts still remain over his defensive ability.
Maxime Colin, Blues` first choice right back, can also play on the left. The former Brentford man was used there during the early stages of this season with Harry Redknapp at the helm. Colin is undoubtedly one of Blues` best players and his adaptability is just another string to his bow.
If Cotterill decides on Colin as his left back, Carl Jenkinson could step in on the right, his natural position.
Of course, there`s also the option of Josh Dacres-Cogley who has played on the left in the past. But he is very much a right sided player and isn`t currently top of the pecking order and like Bramall, doubts exist over his ability to defend competently.
If we`re purely looking ahead to Sunday`s derby, Cotterill may favour the more solid of the defenders - Jenkinson and Colin. But then there`s the small matter of the rest of the season in which Bramall and Dacres-Cogley still have a part to play.
And let`s not rule out Steve Seddon, a young left back making waves in the development squad. He has been on the bench for the two FA Cup ties against Huddersfield and is training in and around the first team squad.
RIGHT BACK OPTIONS
Maxime Colin, Carl Jenkinson, Josh Dacres-Cogley
LEFT BACK OPTIONS
Cohen Bramall, Maxime Colin, Steve Seddon
Cotterill has considered dipping into the free agent market but isn`t convinced by the players available. Kieran Richardson and former Blues academy graduate Marcos Painter have been mentioned and are both natural left backs. But the manager would prefer to utilise what he has got and take his time before making a decision.
ROB`S TEAM v VILLA: 4-3-2-1
Jenkinson, Dean, Roberts, Colin
Kieftenbeld, Gadner, Davis