MX23RW : Wednesday, August 4 21:21:17| >> :120:82103:82103:
Jan 10, 2015 at 3pm UK at St Andrew's
BirminghamBirmingham City
3-1
WiganWigan Athletic
Donaldson (2', 14', 64')
FT(HT: 2-1)
McClean (36')

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Wigan Athletic

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship encounter between Birmingham and Wigan as the Latics look to climb out of the bottom three.

Had someone predicted before the season that one of Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic would be in the relegation zone at the start of 2015, the odds would have been overwhelmingly in favour of it being the former.

However, it is the Latics who find themselves in the bottom three ahead of their trip to St Andrew's this weekend courtesy of a dreadful first half of the campaign.

Many tipped Wigan to challenge for automatic promotion this season, but instead they find themselves in danger of dropping down to League One.

They go into their first Championship game of the year three points adrift of safety, with Malky Mackay's arrival failing to stop the rot at the club.

Off-field issues have not helped, but Wigan have now lost six of their last seven games in all competitions and only won once in their last 11, losing eight.

A defeat at the hands of rivals Bolton Wanderers in the third round of the FA Cup did nothing to lift their spirits, while continued speculation over Shaun Maloney could see the troubled club lose one of its star players before the month is out.

The Scot may miss out this weekend due to the ongoing interest in his situation, but new loan signing Liam Ridgewell could feature against his former club if he is cleared in time.

While Wigan have continued to struggle under a new boss, Birmingham's appointment of Gary Rowett has had exactly the desired effect on the team.

The Blues have only lost two of their 11 matches with the former Burton Albion manager at the helm and come into this match having won four of their last five in all competitions.

They were given a mighty scare by Non-League Premier side Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup, however, falling 2-0 behind at half time before a six-minute salvo after the break spared their blushes.

Wes Thomas was key in the comeback with a brace, but he is unlikely to continue in the side as Rowett returns to a full-strength starting XI this weekend.

Perhaps Rowett's main impact since joining the club has been transforming their home form, but he lost his unbeaten St Andrew's record in emphatic fashion on Boxing Day as visiting Derby County ran out 4-0 winners.

However, they bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest to end the year in 14th place, only outside of the top half on goal difference.

They will be out for revenge this weekend too, having been humbled 4-0 by the Latics in the reverse fixture.

Birmingham:

Form in Championship: WLWWLW
Form in all competitions: LWWLWW

Possible starting lineup: Randolph; Caddis, Grounds, Morrison, Robinson; Shinnie, Davis, Gleeson, Cotterill; Gray; Donaldson

Wigan:

Form in Championship: LLLLWL
Form in all competitions: LLLWLL

Possible starting lineup: Carson; Boyce, Barnett, Kiernan, Taylor; McManaman, Cowie, McCann, McClean, Watson, Fortune

Sports Mole says: 2-0


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Burton manager Gary Rowett looks on prior to the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Burton Albion and Queens Park Rangers at Pirelli Stadium on August 27, 2014
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Thursday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

MARATHON SWIMMING
· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

BOXING
· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

DIVING
· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

HOCKEY
· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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