PREVIEW: City v Birmingham


City’s flirtation with the play-off race has oscillated more wildly between on and off than the most plainly ill-starred celebrity romance; off after the Brentford humping, but following the midweek win over Millwall, we’re back on. Right?

Probably wrong. A scrappy 2-1 win over a struggling side won’t paper over the cracks revealed three days earlier by Brentford, our third away defeat in a row. It just lifts us back into the top half, and replaced frowns with smiles. Got that? Because if City win tomorrow, there’ll be a quiz, to check we’ve remembered all of this…

And yet, Birmingham are touted as much more authentic play-off hopefuls, despite sitting a slender three points ahead of City; a repetition of the five-goal win we enjoyed on their last visit will lift us above them. But…but a loss would probably see us slip into the bottom half.

City can welcome back Kevin Stewart tomorrow, who’s been missed more than we might ever have expected him to be. However, Fraizer Campbell and Stephen Kingsley will have to sit it out through injury. Longer term absentees Toral, Mazuch, Weir and MacDonald are obviously not going to play any part, though recent recoveree Jordy de Wijs – who again we missed when unavailable – should continue in defence.

Birmingham, the jammy gets, have no-one missing and a full squad available. Imagine that – a squad, properly assembled, that’s all fit. Not for us, such vulgarity.

City paggered the Blues 6-1 last season, the fourth time in a row we’ve bested them in this part of the world. Earlier this season, the sides shared six goals at St Andrews; the omens for goals therefore aren’t bad. Birmingham’s form is patchy of late, with an impressive midweek win at Bristol City getting them back on track after a draw with Blackburn and a surprise home defeat to Bolton ended a decent run of form.

Birmingham can probably survive a draw tomorrow and still be in with a chance, though City can’t really not win and still talk about the top six without sounding a bit silly. You can get 6/4 on City recording a seventh win in eight home games, 21/10 on the Blues and 12/5 on a draw that doesn’t really suit anyone. Two top-half sides both with a shout of the play-offs – surely there’ll be queues for this…right?