After taking an impressive four points from a possible six in their opening two Championship games, Birmingham City will be hoping to build on this decent start against an injury-ravaged AFC Bournemouth.
Despite multiple setbacks, Scott Parker’s side have won their two league matches and the Blues will need to be on the top of their game against tonight if they want to win maximum points from this one.
One player that could return to the fold for Lee Bowyer in time for tonight is Manchester United loanee Tahith Chong, who missed last weekend’s game against Stoke City but has since returning to training.
Quiz: Have Birmingham City won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
The Dutch winger hadn’t trained with the Blues for much of last week after sustaining a minor hamstring injury against Sheffield United on the opening day of the season – and was said to be ‘touch and go’ for the clash at the bet365 Stadium.
But with a few more days to recover, he could potentially be included in the matchday squad to face the Cherries. It would be a surprise to see him come straight back into the starting lineup though, despite his man of the match performance against the Blades.
Another loanee in Dion Sanderson, who arrived at St Andrew’s last month from Wolverhampton Wanderers, is still not up to full speed after joining pre-season training late and will continue to play in the Championship side’s Under-23 fixtures before being given his senior debut in the second tier.
This maiden appearance is not expected to come until the end of the month at the earliest though.
Someone else who may also be a fair way away from returning to action is Neil Etheridge. The Filipino international was hospitalised with the effects of Covid-19 last month – but has recovered well and re-joined Blues goalkeepers Matija Sarkic and Connal Trueman in full training on Monday.
The former has kept two clean sheets in his first two league games for the Blues though, so manager Bowyer won’t rush Etheridge who will continue to take things slowly as he makes his way back to full fitness.
There is another good bit of injury news on top of Chong’s return – and that’s the fact they have no fresh injury concerns from last weekend’s game in Staffordshire.
As they look to build on their good start, their near-clean bill of health will only help them in this quest and it’s especially vital tonight as they face one of the favourites for promotion.