Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has insisted that Birmingham City are a different team now under Lee Bowyer from the one that the Rams beat away from home comfortably last season.
The Rams travel to St Andrews on Friday to face Birmingham away from home hoping to emulate their result there last season.
Rooney’s side were able to run out 4-0 winners on that occasion against the Blues when they were enduring a very difficult period under Aitor Karanka.
However, since then, Birmingham have been taken over by Bowyer and he has managed to move the Blues forwards a lot during his spell in charge at St Andrews.
Birmingham have a different edge about their game now and with some quality signings having been added to their squad over the summer, they will likely head into Saturday’s clash with Derby as the team favoured to secure all three points.
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Speaking to Derby’s official club website ahead of the trip to Birmingham, Rooney insisted that the Blues will provide a tough test for his side on Saturday, while he also claimed that Bowyer has transformed them into a different animal since their 4-0 win there last term.
He said: “I think it will be a tough game; they are hard to break down and defend really well.
“They are quite aggressive when they attack and go direct. They try and play a little bit as well, so we know it won’t be easy.
“Every game is tough in the Championship so we will have to go there prepared, try and play our way and do all we can to get a positive result.
“They are a different team to what they were back then, as we are, so we are expecting a very tough game so we will have to make sure we prepare well and be ready to do everything to get three points.”
These comments from Rooney are exactly right and Derby need to prepare for a very tough encounter this time around at St Andrews with any chance of a repeat of their 4-0 win there last term looking slim.
Birmingham have looked impressive in most of their opening Championship matches and the new additions that have been made to their squad over the summer seem to have given them a chance of competing much further up the league table.
Derby will therefore know that they have to be at their best to try and keep their momentum going after they managed to enjoy a much more positive August than many would have predicted.
It is likely to be a tight contest that could well be settled by the odd moment of individual quality on either side.
However, Birmingham are going to provide a major test to the positive start that Rooney has been able to have with his Derby side this season.