Birmingham v Man Utd
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester United look to dent former star Steve Bruce's hopes of taking Birmingham City into Europe next season when the two teams meet at St Andrews, but Ruud van Nistelrooy is unlikely to figure for the visitors.
Blues are enjoying a wonderful campaign and ex-United defender Bruce has few injury concerns ahead of the game with only Darren Purse, who has had an ankle operation, definitely out of his plans.
David Dunn is back in training and, after admitting this week he thought about retiring soon after joining the club as he was so home-sick, it will be a major boost to the midfielder if he is included in the squad after a lengthy spell out with a hamstring problem.
"If you had said to me in August that, with seven games to go, we would still be in contention for a Champions League spot, I'd have said you should be certified and would have sent for the men in white coats," said Bruce.
"But we have been consistent over the last seven or eight months. We've been in the top ten all season so we must be doing something right.
"We're in with a chance."
Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to be without top scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy again as the Dutchman is still struggling with the knee injury, sustained when challenged heavily by Patrick Vieira, that kept him out of the FA Cup semi-final win over The Gunners.
Louis Saha is an obvious replacement, but he too is still not fully fit as he is carrying a troublesome Achilles problem. If both strikers are absent, the much-maligned Diego Forlan could get the chance to shine that he has been demanding in the media recently.
Rio Ferdinand (suspension) and Quinton Fortune (injury) are definitely missing but, with FA Cup final places up for grabs, Ferguson will expect his starting eleven to approach the match with some purpose.