By Charles Jones
Steve Cotterill will take control of Birmingham City for the first time against Cardiff at St. Andrews.
This comes two weeks after Birmingham were demolished 6-1 by Hull and the Blues will be desperate to bounce back with a result at home.
It’s a steep learning curve for the new manager though, as he has to face table-toppers Cardiff, who come into this match unbeaten in four.
Birmingham will be boosted by the fact key player Che Adams, and club record signing Jota will be back in contention for selection after injury layoffs.
Carl Jenkinson remains unavailable and there is no date given for when he will be back. Cotterill said: “I don’t think there is any time on that. Normally when you pop a shoulder it’s quite serious for a long time.”
Cardiff will be without several players for the fixture. Callum Paterson and Lee Camp are still sidelined while Aaron Gunnarsson needs a late fitness test after appearing for Iceland last week.
Bizarrely, Bruno Ecuele Manga may also be out as a diarrhea epidemic spread throughout the Gabon team whilst on international duty in Morocco. Manager Neil Warnock said: “They had a diarrhea epidemic in Morocco, they played on Tuesday in Paris as well so we haven’t seen him yet.”
Although there is a huge gulf between the two teams in the league table, Birmingham may fancy themselves to get something against Cardiff. If Jota can play balls through to utilize the pace of Isaac Vassell and Adams, the Cardiff defence could come unstuck as Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison could struggle to keep up with the two pacey strikers.
Another interesting battle in this game will be Nathaniel Mendez-Laing potentially going up against Jonathan Grounds. It could be a long day for Grounds as the English winger may have the beating of him down the wing every time as he has done with many fullbacks this season.