MX23RW : Monday, October 22 23:28:04

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Queens Park Rangers

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between Birmingham and out-of-form promotion chasers QPR.

Queens Park Rangers' automatic promotion hopes are slowly growing dimmer and dimmer, and defeat away to Birmingham City on Saturday could well be the final nail in the coffin.

The Hoops have now gone five matches without a victory, leaving them nine points behind second-placed Burnley and four behind Derby County in third.

Indeed, QPR are now within striking distance of fifth-placed Nottingham Forest and could drop below Billy Davies's side if results go against them this weekend.

However, the R's do have a game in hand over every other team in the top five of the table, so a win at St Andrew's could put them right back into the mix.

The match must be nearing the status of 'must win' for Harry Redknapp, who has seen his job come under question following their winless streak.

The club's figures being published does not help matters, with huge losses and a wage bill higher than the likes of Borussia Dortmund magnifying their underachievement.

QPR have failed to score in five of their last six away outings in all competitions, with a 3-1 win over Ipswich Town in January giving them their only victory in that time.

Looking further back, they have won just two of their last 12 games on the road and their 13 away goals scored in the league this season is one of the division's lowest tallies.

Redknapp will be boosted by the return of Joey Barton from suspension and Clint Hill from injury, but Charlie Austin, Matthew Phillips, Danny Simpson and Alejandro Faurlin all remain sidelined.

Birmingham, meanwhile, will be looking to cash in on QPR's poor form as they attempt to distance themselves from the bottom three.

Lee Clark's side are currently nine points from danger, but Charlton's three games in hand make that gap more perilous than it seems and they are by no means safe just yet.

However, their goal difference is the best in the bottom nine of the table, which could effectively give them an extra point in a relegation battle that could go down to the wire.

The Blues have been forced to deal with troubles away from football this week as owner Carson Yeung was found guilty of money laundering, although acting chairman Peter Pannu has insisted that the club will not be affected.

A third win in the space of six games could be enough to lift them up to 16th in the table and it would also give their survival hopes a massive boost if those below them fail to win.

However, they have not won any of their last five matches at home and have only beaten League Two side Bristol Rovers at St Andrew's in their last 14 outings there.

No Championship team has picked up fewer points in front of their own fans than Birmingham this season, while their two home wins is the joint-lowest tally in any of England's top four divisions.

Clark will once again be without Neal Eardley and Matthew Green, while loanee Jordan Ibe is pushing for his first start for the club.

Recent form

Birmingham: DWLLWL

QPR: WDLLLD

Possible starting lineups

Birmingham: Randolph; Spector, Packwood, Martin, Robinson; Adeyemi, Huws; Burke, Novak, Lee; Macheda

QPR: Green; Hughes, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Barton, Carroll; Hoilett, Jenas, Morrison; Doyle

Sports Mole says: 0-1

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QPR manager Harry Redknapp on the touchline during his team's match against Burnley on October 26, 2013
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Preview: Charlton vs. QPR
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Middlesbrough13742167925
2Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd138142215725
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1373331181324
4Leeds UnitedLeeds1365223111223
5Derby CountyDerby136341714321
6Norwich CityNorwich136341716121
7Blackburn RoversBlackburn135621616021
8Wigan AthleticWigan136251516-120
9Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest134721815319
10Bristol City135441714319
11Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds135442020019
12Brentford134632015518
13Aston Villa134632120118
14Birmingham CityBirmingham133821412217
15Swansea CitySwansea134541210217
16Queens Park RangersQPR135261119-817
17Stoke CityStoke134451719-216
18Bolton WanderersBolton134451116-516
19Reading133371821-312
20Rotherham UnitedRotherham133371020-1012
21Preston North EndPreston132471925-610
22Millwall132471422-810
23Hull City132381120-99
24Ipswich TownIpswich131661120-99

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