Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has revealed that midfielder Ivan Sunjic and defender Dion Sanderson will miss the Blues’ opening game of the campaign next weekend.
Sunjic was absent from the Blues’ squad for their final pre-season encounter with West Brom on Saturday as they suffered a 4-0 defeat. However, the Croatian was involved for Birmingham’s under-23s and played an hour of their fixture against Stoke City on Friday evening.
Sanderson, meanwhile, has yet to feature for Birmingham since he arrived on a season-long loan deal from Wolves. That comes with the defender having suffered a back injury during the run-in last term whilst on loan at Sunderland in League One.
The injury had prematurely ended his time with the Black Cats and meant he missed out on playing for them in the play-offs.
Quiz: What was the score the last time Birmingham City played at each of these 24 stadiums?
Speaking to Birmingham Live, Bowyer revealed that Sunjic will not be fit enough to make their opening fixture against Sheffield United. However, he insisted that the midfielder’s absence has been sown to a genuine injury and not anything transfer-related.
He said: “Ivan has not played a game, he has had two training sessions this week – that was his first 60 last night. He won’t be ready for next Saturday.
“We are not just hiding him away so someone comes and buys him, he has been injured.
“Would I much rather him have been sitting on the bench or playing today? Of course I would, but he has genuinely been injured.
“We are not just making it up. There’s no ploy or plot to anything.”
On Sanderson’s situation he added: “He is just coming back, he is in rehab, that’s out of our control, he is due back in a few weeks and he should be involved with the group.”
This is a potential blow for Birmingham ahead of their opening clash against Sheffield United, but in truth, they knew for a while that Sanderson was not going to be available for a while given he is still recovering from the injury he suffered on loan with Sunderland.
That one is a loss that would have been well planned for and the Blues have enough options for that not to be an issue.
Sunjic though had been a notable absentee from Birmingham’s pre-season fixture against West Brom and the fact that he instead played for the under-23s might have raised one or two concerns that he might even be subject of transfer interest. However, Bowyer has now ruled that out and insisted that he has only been missing through injury which is a positive.
The midfielder should be able to get himself back into contention to make Birmingham’s squad in the coming weeks if he is already playing for the under-23s. Therefore, it should only be a couple of games or so that he misses out on at the most.