Aitor Karanka returns to familiar surroundings this afternoon as he takes his Birmingham City team to Teesside to face Middlesbrough.
And the Spaniard is desperate for a result with his outfit sitting in 19th place in the Championship table and sitting perilously close to the relegation zone.
With some of the talents Karanka is able to call on, dropping into the bottom three shouldn’t even be a thought but the Blues have struggled to string wins together and finding a regular stream of goals has been difficult.
Birmingham took a break from league action last week but they were given a footballing lesson by Pep Guardiola and Manchester City in the FA Cup, and that will probably make the team glad they’re back in league action.
Blues are on a run of six Championship games without a win, and in the reverse fixture at St. Andrews last month, Boro ran away as 4-1 winners in what was perhaps a harsh scoreline on the home side.
Quiz: The top 16 Birmingham City record player departures – Which club did they join though?
Fans have been begging for exciting winger Jeremie Bela to start after being left out of the last two games, and there’s good news as the Angolan has been recalled by Karanka as he makes three changes to the side that was defeated by City last weekend.
Bela, Neil Etheridge and Harlee Dean all come in for Jonathan Leko, Andres Prieto and Jake Clarke-Salter – and Birmingham fans have been reacting to the line-up on Twitter.
Apart from the CB lottery thats still our strongest line up. Still can't see us getting anything though, its gonna take a massive turnaround in form but heres hoping #kro
— mick (@mickyh01) January 16, 2021
I think Roberts should of started in my opinion over San Jose.
— I/-N 🤟🏻 (@ianwillis_86) January 16, 2021
Roberts deserves the start after his second half vs city
— Liam 💙 (@Liam3617) January 16, 2021
Why does he continue to start Hogan when he isn’t scoring, at least Jukey holds the ball up
— Charlie Martin (@cmartin_o) January 16, 2021
Salter and Roberta should be starting he hasn't got a scooby
— Michael Finn (@Finnster2012) January 16, 2021
Looks good in attacking positions, I worry about our (lack of) pace at the back though #bcfc
— Stuart (Griff™) (@stuart_bcfc) January 16, 2021
That’s decent https://t.co/wh3OOR8ef6
— Cameron Williams (@Cameronw1309) January 16, 2021
No Roberts is criminal after that city game https://t.co/Tj4sxOfGWF
— EB (@birch1875) January 16, 2021
I’d have given Leko a start up top but that’s nearly as strong as it gets for us, into em today blues https://t.co/g4dYhpNmEl
— Mark (@MarfsBack) January 16, 2021
Reckon that’s our strongest team https://t.co/u6PGfmg0so
— Brxn (@Brxndinho10) January 16, 2021
— George 🏁 (@hufc_g) January 16, 2021