Stoke host Birmingham in a 13:30 kick off on Sunday, in a clash seeing two sides in the wrong half of the table going head to head.
Hosts Stoke have taken just four points from their last 5 games, a run of form which sees them sit just a single point and position outside of the relegation zone in 21st, albeit with a game in hand of Hull who currently occupy the final spot.
Having suffered a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of high flyers Leeds last time out, manager Michael O’Neill will be hoping for a big response from his side.
Birmingham currently sit in 17th but are in a similarly torrid run of form, having lost their last 3 games and winless in their last 10, manager Pep Clotet left the club following the 3-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday. Although this was officially a mutual agreement, given the team’s form you can certainly have a guess at which side was the main instigator in this decision.
First-team coach Craig Gardener and professional development coach Steve Spooner will be taking charge for this game and have a big job to change Birmingham’s fortunes. The 4 point gap to Hull and relegation will be particularly worrying for the club.
20 Oct 2018 Stoke City v Birmingham City 0-1
26 Dec 2018 Birmingham City v Stoke City 2-0
31 Aug 2019 Birmingham City v Stoke City 2-1
Stoke could revert to a back four having had their defence exposed against Leeds, so Tom Ince could come into contention for a position in the starting eleven. James Chester could also start in place of Nathan Collins in central defence.
Birmingham have no fresh injury concerns but have some selection conundrums. Firstly, 17-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham could return having been benched in midweek, whilst newly installed player-coach Gardener could decide to remain in the dugout, allowing midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld a potential appearance.
Two teams low on both form and confidence. Birmingham will be desperate to salvage something and may well do with a change in management introducing a fresh perspective for the players.
Match Preview written by Will Edwards.