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Preview: Wolves v Birmingham
26 Nov 2009 - 14:36:37
Midlands eyes will be firmly glued on Sunday's early kick-off at Molineux for the eagerly anticipated clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City.
Following Wolves' promotion from the Championship last season, they have struggled to adapt to their new surroundings and, with just two wins to their name from their opening 13 league games, they are set for a season-long struggle at the foot of the table.
They have leaked eight goals in the last two games, albeit against free-scoring Arsenal and Chelsea, and now is the time to pick up wins at home.
Molineux has hardly been a fortress, a meagre five points from a possible 18 have been picked up, with losses to West Ham United, rock-bottom Portsmouth and a classy Arsenal side leaving them in the precarious position they currently occupy.
Boss Mick McCarthy has a string of injury concerns ahead of the weekend contest with Matt Murray, Stephen Ward and David Jones (all knee) missing alongside Matt Hill (ankle), Ronald Zubar (thigh) and Chris Iwelumo (foot).
Fellow Championship escapees Birmingham City will have been buoyed by their 1-0 home success against Fulham last weekend and manager Alex McLeish will be positive going into this derby game.
The win stretched the Blues' unbeaten run to four games, a sequence that has included draws against Manchester City and Liverpool and another 1-0 win at St Andrew's against Sunderland at the end of October.
This excellent run has propelled the second city outfit to 13th in the table and, more importantly, four points away from the relegation places.
McLeish must do without Teemu Tainio and David Murphy (both knee), Stuart Parnaby (back), Damien Johnson (hamstring), Garry O'Connor (hip), (knee) and Martin Taylor (ankle) in an increasing lengthy injury list.
A further win for the Blues could launch them into the top ten but a Wolves success would certainly see them breathe easier and also push them out of the bottom three.