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Feb 28, 2015 at 3pm UK at St Andrew's
BirminghamBirmingham City
Tarkowski (40' og.)
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Brentford

Sports Mole previews Brentford's trip to out-of-form Birmingham as the Bees look to climb into the playoff places with a third straight win.

The thrilling Championship playoff race will embark on another chapter this weekend, with Brentford hoping to break back into the top six with victory away to Birmingham City.

The Bees are just one point off the pace and could move as high as third should results fall kindly for them this weekend, with only two points separating them from Ipswich Town.

Indeed, with the Tractor Boys and Norwich City not playing until the East Anglian derby on Sunday, Brentford would be guaranteed to move up to at least fifth for a minimum of 24 hours with a win on Saturday.

They will go into the match as favourites too, having responded magnificently to the bizarre news that manager Mark Warburton will be leaving the club at the end of the season, even if he secures back-to-back promotions.

Credit must go to both the manager and the players for getting on with the job with the utmost professionalism, easing past Bournemouth last weekend before crushing lowly Blackpool at Griffin Park on Tuesday.

It is a timely return to form following back-to-back defeats that preceded those victories, and they will be hoping to also get back to winning ways on the road having won three of their last four away games but lost their most recent one.

The Bees will be boosted by the return of Jake Bidwell from suspension, and he is expected to come straight back into the starting lineup despite Stuart Dallas impressing while filling in at left-back.

Andre Gray and Jonathan Douglas were both taken off as precautions in the victory over Blackpool and should be fit to start this weekend, but Alan Judge is a doubt having picked up a knock in the win over Bournemouth.

Jon Toral's perfect hat-trick against Blackpool should be enough for him to retain his spot in the team, with Warburton likely to keep changes to a minimum.

While Brentford scored four on Tuesday, Birmingham were on the receiving end of four goals for the second match in succession as they were beaten by promotion-chasing Ipswich Town.

A brace from David Davis was not enough for the Blues, with Ipswich running out 4-2 winners at Portman Road to stretch Birmingham's winless run to nine matches in all competitions.

It is the first time that they have lost back-to-back matches under Gary Rowett, and the honeymoon period they enjoyed under the former Burton Albion boss is fast becoming a distant memory.

Suddenly, the Blues are back to looking over their shoulders having made a charge for the top half in the opening months of Rowett's tenure, with just eight points now separating them from the bottom three.

It would be a surprise if Birmingham were to be dragged back into the mix with only 13 matches remaining, but they will be keen to end the season on a high in order to raise hopes for a more successful campaign next term.

Birmingham's home form was their main strength when Rowett first took over, but the Blues are now winless in four at St Andrew's and have scored just once in their last three home league games.

Koby Arthur remains a doubt due to a thigh injury picked up in training this week, but Andrew Shinnie is pushing for a recall to the starting lineup having sat out the midweek defeat.


Recent form: DDLDLL

Possible starting lineup: Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Grounds; Gleeson, Davis, Gray, Shinnie, Dyer; Donaldson


Recent form: LWLLWW

Possible starting lineup: Button; Odubajo, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Douglas, Diagouraga, Jota, Pritchard, Jon Toral; Gray

Sports Mole says: 1-1

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Andre Gray of Brentford FC celebrates scoring the first goal with Mark Warburton Manager of Brentford FC during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Watford at Griffin Park on February 10, 2015
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