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New Kids in for the New Year? Cardiff Preview
The first game of 2013 for Birmingham City sees Blues welcome top-of-the-table side Cardiff City to St Andrews. Having tasted defeat on Saturday which dropped Blues to 20th in the table Lee Clark will be looking for a better performance from his side this time out.
Malky McKay’s side are deservedly top of the Championship, having lost only once in ten games, taking fifteen points from their last eighteen possible. Their only recent reverse was the surprising 2-1 defeat at home to Peterborough United, and they come to Blues full of confidence.
Aron Gunnarsson is a doubt in midfield and former Blues youth product Jordon Mutch could step in to replace him in the middle. Mark Hudson will partner former Blues target Ben Turner in the centre of Cardiff’s defence whilst Rudy Gestede will be hoping to continue up front after scoring the winner against Millwall last time out.
Blues are without eleven players for this fixture after Nikola Zigic picked up a two match ban for foolishly being sent off against Bolton whilst Emmitt Delfouneso has torn a groin – very sad for the youngster as it was rumoured Clark was looking to bring him in in replacement for Steven Caldwell. With Zigic out there are no senior strikers fit for Blues and Lee Clark will have to make a tricky decision. Development Squad striker Marcel Henry-Francis has been given a number and could be one option up front alongside or instead of Jake Jervis, with 17-year-old Reece Hales also an outside possibility. Alternatively Clark could use Morrison and Hall through the middle, albeit out of position.
In defence, Will Packwood is back in training and may go in at right-back to allow Paul Robinson to slot in to his more natural left-sided position. I suspect Steven Caldwell could be dropped – either for Pablo Ibanez or possibly (although very doubtfully) Jack Deaman. Clark threatened after the Bolton game to play a team purely made up of youth products but I don’t think he’ll actually do it.
I’m expecting nothing from this game whatsoever. The best I hope for is that our younger players continue to pick up experience, that maybe we give a young striker a chance to show his worth and maybe, just maybe that raw energetic youthfulness will be enough.