Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Birmingham City

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Midlands derby as new Birmingham boss Gary Rowett takes his side to face Wolves at Molineux.

A new era will begin for Birmingham City this Saturday lunchtime when they face local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Midlands derby at Molineux.

Gary Rowett is the new man at the helm of the club following an ill-fated two-year spell under Lee Clark, who was sacked earlier this month having won just two of his 13 games in charge this season.

His departure did nothing to prevent the Blues from plunging to new depths last weekend, however, as an early red card contributed to a horrific collapse against Bournemouth, eventually losing 8-0 in front of their own fans.

It is the home form that will be top of Rowett's agenda to fix as Birmingham have won just one of their last 25 outings at St Andrew's, a run that will have stretched back more than 13 months when they next play at home.

By contrast, their away form has not been quite as bad. More than half of their points this season have come on the road, and it was their away performances last season that saved them from relegation to League One.

Rowett will not care too much where the points come from, though, as long as they arrive soon, with Birmingham sitting 23rd in the Championship table after 14 games.

The players will certainly be keen to show a reaction to their humiliation last time out, but Rowett will be forced into at least one change with David Edgar suspended.

Wolves boss Kenny Jackett has given his backing to Rowett, but he will be hopeful that the former Burton Albion boss doesn't get off to a winning start this weekend.

Last season's League One champions have make a fine start back to life in the second tier of English football and come into this match sitting joint top of the table.

Things are very tight up there, however, with just three points separating the top six, so Jackett will know that a poor run of form could see them slip out of the playoff places in no time.

They have lost just twice in the league all season, however, and come into this match on the back of a four-game unbeaten streak that includes victory in their last two.

The most recent of those came last Saturday, when Leon Clarke's late strike sealed a comeback victory over Leeds United at Elland Road.

That goal could be enough for the previously out-of-favour striker to have earned a start this weekend, although that would be less likely should Bakary Sako pass a late fitness test.

Wolves have won more points at home than any other side in the Championship this season, dropping just five of a possible 21, and if they can keep that sort of form up until May then they could well be on course for back-to-back promotions.

The hosts have also not lost a league game against Birmingham since 2010, when Kevin Phillips scored a late brace to clinch a 2-1 win in the Premier League.

Recent form

Wolves: WWDDLD

Birmingham: LLLDWL

Possible starting lineups

Wolves: Ikeme; Doherty, Batth, Ebanks-Landell, Rowe; Evans, McDonald, Henry, Edwards, Sako; Dicko

Birmingham: Randolph; Eardley, Hall, Robinson, Grounds; Cotterill, Caddis, Gleeson, Novak; Donaldson, Thomas

Sports Mole says: 3-2

Who will win Saturday's Midlands derby between Wolves and Birmingham at Molineux?

Wolves
Birmingham
Draw
Wolves
87.7%
Birmingham
10.5%
Draw
1.8%
Manager Gary Rowett of Burton Albion shouts instructions during the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Burton Albion and Fulham at the Pirelli Stadium on August 27, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Wolverhampton WanderersWolves27195350203062
2Derby CountyDerby27157544232152
3Cardiff CityCardiff27155740251550
4Aston Villa27138639241547
5Bristol City2813874033747
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd27134104031943
7Leeds UnitedLeeds27134103729843
8Fulham2711974034642
9Middlesbrough27125103527841
10Preston North EndPreston27101163127441
11Brentford27101074135640
12Norwich CityNorwich28117102831-340
13Ipswich TownIpswich27123124039139
14Queens Park RangersQPR2789103137-633
15Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest27102153343-1032
16Millwall27710102930-131
17Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds27710103034-431
18Reading2778123035-529
19Barnsley2769122737-1027
20Hull City27510123944-525
21Bolton WanderersBolton2767142545-2025
22Burton Albion2766152146-2524
23Birmingham CityBirmingham2765161538-2323
24Sunderland27410132947-1822
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