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
CWolverhampton WanderersWolves46309782394399
3Fulham462513879463388
4Aston Villa4624111172423083
5Middlesbrough4622101467452276
6Derby CountyDerby4620151170482275
7Preston North EndPreston4619161157461173
8Millwall4619151256451172
9Brentford4618151362521069
10Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd46209176255769
11Bristol City461716136758967
12Ipswich TownIpswich46179205760-360
13Leeds UnitedLeeds46179205964-560
14Norwich CityNorwich461515164960-1160
15Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461415175960-157
16Queens Park RangersQPR461511205870-1256
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest46158235165-1453
18Hull City461116197070049
19Birmingham CityBirmingham46137263868-3046
20Reading461014224870-2244
21Bolton WanderersBolton461013233974-3543
RBarnsley46914234872-2441
RBurton Albion461011253881-4341
RSunderland46716235280-2837

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