MX23RW : Monday, January 21 22:39:47

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Blackburn Rovers

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Championship clash between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew's.

Birmingham City will hope to build on their Midlands derby success over Wolverhampton Wanderers by beating Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew's tomorrow night.

Demarai Gray scored a fine winner for the Blues, and they now sit just two points off the top half of the table and five points behind Rovers.



Birmingham City

Clayton Donaldson of Birmingham City celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between AFC Bournemouth and Birmingham City at Goldsands Stadium on April 6, 2015 © Getty Images

Birmingham manager Gary Rowett has done a brilliant job in turning around their previously miserable home form and making it into one of the club's strengths.

When previous boss Lee Clark was sacked in October, Birmingham had won just one home match in 24 and heavily relied on their patchy away record.

Although they are still inconsistent away from St Andrew's, losing four of their last five, the Blues have won nine home games and lost just six all season, and sit safely in 14th place in the table.

Wolves, who were the form team of the division, were the latest side to suffer at the old stadium in a narrow 2-1 loss thanks to Gray's solo stunner, showing that Birmingham are not content to let their season fizzle out.

Rowett's men have their destiny in their own hands as they face teams around them such as Blackburn, Reading, Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers in their run-in.

However, Blackburn will feel that they can stifle the Blues if they stop Clayton Donaldson, who is Birmingham's top scorer this season. He is the only Blues player to have reached double figures in this campaign, with 19 goals.

Recent form: DDLWLW



Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn's Norwegian striker Joshua King (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring his third and the team's fourth goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match against Stoke on February 14, 2015© Getty Images

Blackburn will be have an eye on next year, where they hope to launch a promotion push, in the final five games of their season.

Manager Gary Bowyer has done well since he arrived two years ago, and they could finish in their current position of 10th for the second consecutive campaign.

Rovers have been a solid top-half side all season, but they haven't quite been able to put together a run of form to see them join the hunt for the playoffs.

That is a source of frustration for both the fans and the club, and they will demand to be competing at the top in 2015-16.

Rovers' season is in danger of petering out after their FA Cup run came to an end in the quarter-finals against Liverpool last week, while last time out they drew 0-0 with Reading at the Madejski Stadium. However, they appear to be in decent form with four wins from their last seven games.

Away from home they have a solid record and have won six times, which makes them the 11th best Championship team on their travels.

This record has picked up recently as they have earned seven points from their last nine away from Ewood Park, which includes wins against Charlton Athletic and Leeds United.

Recent form: WWLLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWLD



Team News

Rudy Gestede of Blackburn Rovers (39) celebrates as he scores their second goal during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City at Ewood park on January 24, 2015© Getty Images

Gary Rowett has no new injury concerns and can pick from a fully fit squad tomorrow night.

Defender Paul Robinson will miss a second game in a row due to suspension, and his place is expected to be taken again by Rob Kiernan.

The centre-back was a doubt for the match after he tweaked his hamstring over the weekend, but the injury is not as bad as first feared.

Rowett could select Jonathan Spector instead of Kiernan, although the American is still fighting an ankle injury, while Diego Fabbrini is also expected to play despite suffering cramp against Wolves.

Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer has a decision to make in attack, as Rudy Gestede is pushing for a recall after recovering from a recent injury.

Jay Spearing, Tommy Spurr and Chris Brown will all hope to keep their places after they were recalled to the starting XI against Reading.

Birmingham City possible starting lineup:
Randolph, Caddis, Kiernan, Morrison, Grounds, Fabbrini, Davis, Tesche, Cotterill, Gray, Donaldson.

Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Eastwood, Henley, Kilgallon, Spurr, Olsson, Cairney, Williamson, Spearing, Marshall, Rhodes, Gestede.



Head To Head

Blackburn marginally have the better record over Birmingham, and claimed their 45th win in this fixture earlier in the season when Ben Marshall struck the decisive goal in a 1-0 victory.

Last year, the pair played out two high-scoring games with Blackburn winning 4-2 at St Andrew's and Birmingham winning 3-2 in the reverse fixture.

The home team generally dominates games between the pair though, as the away side hadn't won in 16 matches prior to Birmingham's win at Ewood Park last year.


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We say: Birmingham City 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Although both sides are drifting towards the end of the season, Birmingham will be confident after their win over Wolves last time out.

Their home form is currently strong, and we predict that they will extend that against a Rovers side who are settled in the top half.


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Who will win Tuesday's Championship clash between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers?

Birmingham City
Blackburn Rovers
Birmingham City
63.9%
Blackburn Rovers
36.1%
Bakary Sako of Wolverhampton shoots during the Sky Bet Championship match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham at Molineux on February 24, 2015
Read Next:
Team News: Wolves unchanged for Birmingham trip
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds28166647301754
2Norwich CityNorwich28158552361653
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom28148657352250
4Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28155846291750
5Middlesbrough281211531201147
6Derby CountyDerby2813784035546
7Bristol City2812883529644
8Hull City28117104135640
9Swansea CitySwansea28117103732540
10Blackburn RoversBlackburn28101083741-440
11Birmingham CityBirmingham2891274033739
12Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2891273932739
13Aston Villa2891275145639
14Queens Park RangersQPR28116113439-539
15Stoke CityStoke2891183335-238
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds2898113345-1235
17Brentford28810104339434
18Preston North EndPreston2889114345-233
19Millwall2878133444-1029
20Wigan AthleticWigan2885152841-1329
21Rotherham UnitedRotherham28510132746-1925
22Reading2858153143-1223
23Bolton WanderersBolton2857161842-2422
24Ipswich TownIpswich2839162248-2618

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