After an excellent start to the campaign, Birmingham City have struggled to sustain their early-season form, and as a result, they have dropped to 16th place in the table.
Picking up 11 points in their opening six games, they have since returned just two points from their next five games but will be hoping that this two-week break has given them the necessary time to fight back.
A visit to West Brom is up there with the hardest game that they are set to face this year, and whilst West Brom possess talent all across the pitch, The Blues have shown a fearless side already this season.
Here, we take a look at three curveballs that Lee Bowyer could throw at Valerien Ismael, as Birmingham try to return to winning ways…
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Match up West Brom
Valerien Ismael has been reluctant to switch up his tactics this season, meaning it is almost certain that he will set his team up in a 3-4-3.
To match this Birmingham would not have to do much. The back three will be given the same responsibilities, as will the wing-backs, with the midfield two also not changing much.
However, this would mean that Tahith Chong, who is as competent in a number 10 role as he is on the wing, will be given the role to cause chaos in-between West Brom’s left-sided centre-back and left wing-back, which could potentially make The Baggies rethink how advanced they will allow their wing-backs to travel.
Freshen up the midfield
There is no denying that Ivan Sunjic and Ryan Woods have established themselves as starters within this Birmingham squad, however, handing a start to Riley McGree might be an option for Bowyer.
Admittedly, he does not possess much Championship experience, and this is certainly a riskier move given the evident quality of the aforementioned duo.
But, McGree brings relentless energy to the midfield and that is what is needed to nullify the threat of West Brom’s midfield duo.
If Alex Mowatt starts, then he operates best when afforded space in the midfield area, and McGree is a player that will eliminate that possibility.
Hand Troy Deeney a start
Troy Deeney is an excellent option for The Blues to have, with the former Watford man’s physicality and know-how being two of his abilities that could cause The Baggies’ defence a lot of trouble.
Lukas Jutkiewicz is a similarly terrifying presence for opposing defences, but Deeney will be eager to prove himself at St Andrew’s, and he is not shy of the big occasion.
Having Chong and perhaps Hogan operating off him could cause West Brom a lot of difficulty, and given Jutkiewicz’s first-team status, it may not be a decision that Ismael’s side will be preparing for.