EVERTON v BIRMINGHAM
By Nic Evans
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Brummies won 1-0 at Watford in the third round of the FA Cup, but, with injuries to their strikers, are struggling for goals, as their average of 1.36 per league game shows.
Despite needing a replay to overcome Exeter in the last round, the Toffees will be confident of progressing as they have one of the deadliest attacks in the Premiership. They have scored from 16 per cent of their efforts on goal to City`s 13 per cent.
Everton have made more passes in fewer matches than Birmingham, and completed a higher percentage of them. Players such as Don Hutchison and John Collins should help to maintain this advantage despite the absence of Nick Barmby from the home side`s midfield.
After knocking Newcastle out of the Worthington Cup as well as Watford from the FA Cup, Birmingham will be looking to complete a season`s hat-trick of top-flight scalps. Everton will hope that in this case, Premiership class really does make the difference.
Nicky Barmby has made a rapid recovery after being felled by an awful challenge from Tim Flowers on Monday. Barmby escaped with severe bruising and is expected to be fit for the game against Birmingham.
He has been having treatment all week and the club are hopeful he can play a part against Trevor Francis` men. Richard Dunne and Francis Jeffers could also make the starting line up although Michael Ball will likely start the game on the bench. However Abel Xavier and Alex Cleland will remain out.
Blues defender Michael Johnson will plays his final game for Birmingham before jetting off to join Jamaica`s national squad for a tour of China.