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Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic: Preview
Published : 24 Sep 2010 20:50:53
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has no new major injury problems ahead of the home Barclays Premier League clash with Wigan.
Midfielder Michel is ruled out with a dead leg but at best the Spaniard was only likely to figure amongst the substitutes against the Latics.
James McFadden has undergone successful surgery on the anterior knee ligament injury he suffered a week ago.
McLeish has to decide whether to give a first league start to winger Jean Beausejour who impressed in the mid-week Carling Cup win over MK Dons while skipper Stephen Carr will return after resting the broken toe he has played with for the first month of the season.
McLeish has challenged his side to make history by avoiding defeat.
Blues will equal the club's top-flight record of 18 games unbeaten at home if they draw or defeat the Latics, and McLeish has revealed the determination amongst his players for that run to continue.
City went down to visiting Aston Villa and then Bolton in the early part of last season - their first back in the Premier League.
But since then they have avoided defeat in front of their own fans and last season shared the spoils with Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool.
McLeish said: "This seems to be the topic this week of the media. I'm aware of the headlines telling everyone that is the case.
"I'm sure people reading that will be thinking 'this will be the one where they finally lose that record after talking about it so much'.
"I can't avoid that. We have a great home record - and we want to preserve it. The players have got to give me everything and to do everything in their power to preserve it.
"We know some day we will lose at St Andrew's but they won't go down without fighting. It is tough to go away from home and win games in the Premier League."
Wigan midfielder Hendry Thomas is expected to miss out after suffering a badly-cut shin in Carling Cup
action this week.
Ronnie Stam and Franco Di Santo also suffered knocks in the 2-1 win over Preston but are expected to be fit while Victor Moses, who made his comeback from an ankle injury last weekend, is also pushing for a place in the squad.
Club captain Gary Caldwell (hip) played in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week but is still a few weeks away from a first-team return while Tom Cleverley (knee) is also out.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez insists he has no concerns about fielding Charles N'Zogbia against the team that came close to signing him this summer.
The France international is expected to be part of the Latics team.
Wigan accepted Blues' bid for N'Zogbia last month but the parties could not agree personal terms and the winger returned to the DW Stadium.
The 24-year-old has a reputation as a difficult player to manage but Martinez could not be happier with his contribution since the deal fell through.
He said: "I think that's well in the past. The transfer window brings you that sort of speculation but once the window closed I've been very happy with the focus and concentration of the players, especially Charles.
"We forget the players are human beings and the transfer window being open while the competition is going on is really wrong.
"But I've been really pleased with his reaction, the players have been really happy with his attitude and his behaviour and the way he performed on Wednesday showed the talent that he's got. I don't think it's going to affect anyone.
"It doesn't concern me at all. What is important is the way we're starting to gel as a team."