Stoke City V Birmingham City Match Preview
Birmingham City make the short trip to Stoke City as Alex McLeish's in-form side lock horns with Tony Pulis' mid-table outfit.
Following a poor start to this season's Premier League campaign, Birmingham have impressed many by climbing into the upper reaches of the Premier League table.
Cameron Jerome has started to find the net for City after a slow start to the season and he will want to strike fear into the hearts of City's backline and is likely to be partnered by Ecuador international Christian Benitez, who is starting to find his feet in English football.
McLeish must select his side minus the services of Teemu Tainio and David Murphy (both knee), Stuart Parnaby (back), Garry O'Connor (hip), and Martin Taylor (ankle).
The quintet all missed the Boxing Day goalless draw with Chelsea but the well-organised Blues still impressed.
Stoke seem have put their dressing room debacle at Arsenal out of their system with boss Pulis and striker James Beattie settling their differences.
However, their on-field problems remain.
The Potteries side haven't won any of their last five games, with draws against Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic bringing just two points to their tally from a possible 15.
Ryan Shawcross is struggling with a groin complaint but is expected to feature against the Blues and Amdy Faye remains out with a long-standing back injury.
The last time the two teams met in the league at Britannia Stadium was during the 2006/07 season when both were in the Championship.
Stoke and Birmingham fans will be hoping for a little more action during this festive fixture after the last clash served up a dour goalless draw.
Only Stoke's Mamady Sidibe and Birmingham's Sebastian Larsson and Damien Johnson, who featured on that day, are still likely to feature for their respective clubs.
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