Birmingham City will be desperate to get back to winning ways after suffering a heartbreaking last-minute equaliser in their previous match against Cardiff City.
Finding themselves 2-0 up at St Andrew’s going into the interval, they will have been extremely disappointed not to win all three points against a side that are still trying to drag themselves away from the relegation zone.
A victory last weekend would have made amends for a poor defensive display at Millwall in the game prior to their meeting with the Welsh outfit – and after failing to take that chance to redeem themselves – they aren’t exactly favourites to bounce back in this afternoon’s match either as they travel to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers.
Quiz: Have Birmingham City signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
Tony Mowbray’s men have gone unbeaten in their last six games, keeping clean sheets in their last two and winning 16 points from a possible 18 during this scintillating run of form, with 17-goal man Ben Brereton Diaz in line to start and likely to cause another Championship defence all sorts of problems.
But even with Blackburn’s threats to contend with, Mowbray’s opposite number Lee Bowyer will also need to focus on his own squad ahead of this tie with many dilemmas to contend with.
We take a look at just two of those below.
Time to drop McGree?
This question almost seems crass after seeing the Australian record two assists last weekend against Cardiff City, proving to be an energetic attacking force in the middle and playing a big part in Troy Deeney and Ivan Sunjic’s goals.
They would ideally want to keep the 23-year-old for the long term after seeing him make such a positive impact in an advanced midfield role – but manager Bowyer revealed in his pre-match press conference that the Blues had given up their permanent pursuit of him.
He is set to head back to MLS outfit Charlotte at the start of January in time for the beginning of their 2022 campaign, leaving his current loan side with a big void to fill when the next calendar year comes around.
With his future now confirmed, is it now time to prepare for life after the 23-year-old from this afternoon by taking him out of the starting lineup? This would give a potential internal replacement from Birmingham’s existing squad the chance to become accustomed to his role.
On the other hand, it’s all about getting points at this stage with the middle pack squished together – and dropping him could be detrimental to their chances of winning a point or three today.
That’s something for Bowyer to consider.
Youth or experience?
17-year-old Jordan James started alongside Sunjic in the middle of the park last time out, giving a reasonably good account of himself considering his inexperience and establishing himself as one of the club’s brightest prospects.
But he isn’t guaranteed to retain his place there at Ewood Park, with Ryan Woods and Gary Gardner both returning from their respective suspensions and Bowyer potentially preferring to have a more experienced option in there after the Cardiff collapse.
Woods is the most likely of the two to start considering Gardner’s indiscipline at Hull City last month, being sent off in a completely unnecessary manner as he lost his temper. For Woods’ dismissal at Coventry, many would say he was unlucky to receive his marching orders.
Dropping James now may knock his confidence after putting in a respectable performance against the Bluebirds, but the returning pair will also be champing at the bit to make an impression.
This is one position to watch out for when the team news comes out.