Blues Take On Black Cats
16th April 2011
Steve Bruce brings his Sunderland side to St Andrews this weekend hoping that they can pick up maximum top flight points for the first time in 28 years.
The Black Cats have now lost seven of their last eight games, last weekend West Brom were the victors but at least Bruce saw his side score a couple of goals for the first time in four outings.
But Sunderland have had their fair share of injuries this term and Bruce is asking his team to play beyond the pain barrier to some players.
Blues will be looking for the crowd to get right behind them in this game as they look for the wins that will move them away from the drop zone. It is thought that Birmingham are looking for two wins out of the remaining three at home.
Away, there are games to come against Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham and even the most staunch City fan would say that its a tall order to pick up away wins this season.
Kevin Phillips - (Shields Gazette:) "There`ll be no divided loyalties from me this weekend - however much a special place Sunderland might hold in my heart.
"My job is to go out there and either get goals or create goals for Birmingham City, and I`ll be focused on that 100 per cent for every minute I`m on the pitch on Saturday.
"You can`t go out there with your mind in a muddle - I`ve learned that much over the years - you`ve got to go out there with a clear head and do the job you`re paid for, and for me, that is doing the best I possibly can for Birmingham City.
"But having said that, it won`t stop me wishing Sunderland all the best before and after the game.
"I want both clubs to stay up this season and I believe that they will.'
Birmingham City Team News:
Defender Roger Johnson is expected to be fit for Saturday's game, he had to be substituted at half-time during last weekend's draw at Blackburn suffering from concussion.
But the former Cardiff player was able to return to training on Thursday and should be available to face the Black Cats.
Winger David Bentley and striker Nikola Zigic could come into contention after their respective groin problems have shown signs of improvement, but centre-back Martin Jiranek (toe) and Obafemi Martins (groin) will play no part.
Player to watch: Craig Gardner
Gardner`s career has flourished since he moved across the midlands from Aston Villa to Birmingham and a string of impressive performances have made him a regular starter at St Andrews.
Sunderland Team News:
Striker Fraizer Campbell is facing the possibility of a second operation to repair cruciate ligament damage, which would not only rule him out of the rest of the this season, but the bulk of the 2011/12 campaign as well.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon will travel to Sweden to consult renowned knee specialist Professor Hakan Alfredson for a second time next Tuesday and will discover then if he too needs surgery.
Titus Bramble will not play again this term because of his knee cartilage problem, while Anton Ferdinand (hamstring), John Mensah (groin), Sulley Muntari (calf) and David Meyler (knee) are all out of Saturday's game.
Kieran Richardson (hamstring) is rated at 50-50, but England international Jordan Henderson is likely to be recalled and 19-year-olds Craig Lynch and Ryan Noble have been drafted into the squad.
Player to watch: Asamoah Gyan
We all know what he can do, we saw him against England.
Match Facts & Stats
(from BBC Sport)
• Blues have won only one of their last six Premier League games, although they have lost just one of the previous four.
• Birmingham have won five top-flight games at St Andrew's this term - Wigan and Blackpool are the only sides with fewer home victories.
• Cameron Jerome has not scored in his last 18 Premier League games. His last top-flight goal came in the 3-2 defeat at Stoke on 9 November. He has netted two FA Cup goals since then.
• The Black Cats are winless in eight league matches, losing seven and drawing one (at Arsenal).
• Sunderland have scored nine goals in nine league games following Darren Bent's departure. Asamoah Gyan has scored two of those goals, but he is the only Sunderland striker to have netted since Bent's sale.
• The Black Cats have failed to score in their last three away league games.
Referee: Phil Dowd Assistant referees: Ceri Richards & Glenn Turner Fourth official: Mark Halsey.
Got to go for a 2-0 win for Blues.
20 Apr 2011 Chelsea v Birmingham
23 Apr 2011 Liverpool v Birmingham
01 May 2011 Birmingham v Wolves
07 May 2011 Newcastle v Birmingham
15 May 2011 Birmingham v Fulham
22 May 2011 Tottenham v Birmingham