Feb 1, 2014 at 3pm UK at ‚ÄčSt Andrew's
BirminghamBirmingham City
DerbyDerby County
Howard (48'), Burke (78'), Macheda (90')
Howard (43')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bamford (49'), Martin (59'), Forsyth (73')
Eustace (43'), Wisdom (56'), Bamford (63'), Russell (90')

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Derby County

Preview: Birmingham vs. Derby
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship encounter between Birmingham City and high-flying Derby at St Andrew's.

Derby County could break into the top three in the Championship table with a win over Birmingham City at St Andrew's on Saturday.

The Rams are currently one point behind third-placed Burnley, with the Clarets facing a tough match away to second-placed Queen Park Rangers in the day's early kickoff.

Anything less than a Burnley win would open the door for Derby to leapfrog them in the table as they continue their relentless charge towards the automatic promotion spots.

Steve McClaren's side suffered a setback with back-to-back defeats at the start of 2014, but they have remained unbeaten in their three games since, taking their recent record to 10 wins, two draws and two losses in their last 14 matches.

That has put them 11 points clear of seventh place, and they will have their eyes firmly set on the top two now rather than worrying about staying in the playoff positions.

The visitors boast the second best away record in the division having amassed 27 points on their travels, three more than they have managed in front of their own fans.

They are also the league's top scorers with 54 goals, a tally that will particularly worry Birmingham as only two teams in the league have conceded more than the hosts this season.

Three of those goals came on Tuesday as the Rams erased a 2-0 deficit to beat Yeovil Town 3-2, scoring the winner in the fifth minute of added time.

Paul Coutts remains out for Derby, but he is their only absentee as McClaren otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from.

Birmingham, meanwhile, are in danger of being dragged back into a relegation battle after three consecutive defeats left them just five points clear of the bottom three.

They have lost four of their last five games in all competitions, with the sole victory coming against League Two side Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup.

Lee Clark's side have struggled at St Andrew's this season and are without a win in their last nine matches in front of their own fans, last picking up three home points at the start of October.

Only Yeovil have picked up fewer points at home, with Birmingham managing just two wins at St Andrew's in the entire campaign.

The hosts are hopeful of making a couple of new signings before Friday's transfer deadline as they are currently short on numbers in the squad, with Neal Eardley, Matthew Green and Jonathan Spector all struggling with injuries.

However, they could welcome back Nikola Zigic and Mitch Hancox into the side as they look to put an end to their poor form.

Recent form

Birmingham: DLWLLL


Possible starting lineups

Birmingham: Randolph; Caddis, Bartley, Robinson, Hancox; Adeyemi, Lee; Burke, Novak, Brown; Zigic

Derby: Grant; Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hughes, Eustace, Bryson; Dawkins, Martin, Bamford

Sports Mole says: 1-3

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