Birmingham v Sunderland preview
Last Updated: 29/01/18 6:59pm
Craig Gardner is expected to come back into Birmingham's starting line-up against relegation rivals Sunderland as boss Steve Cotterill faces a selection poser.
He made seven changes for the FA Cup clash at Huddersfield on Saturday and Blues came away with a credible 1-1 draw. Jason Lowe, Carl Jenkinson and Jota - making his first start since Boxing Day - all gave Cotterill food for thought.
Gardner came on for the last two minutes having overcome a groin problem and he should be fit enough to start, while Harlee Dean's half-time substitution had been pre-planned by Cotterill.
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New signing Kazenga LuaLua will be included in the Sunderland squad for the first time at St Andrew's. The 27-year-old is unlikely to start after completing his move from Brighton on a short-term contract last week following a loan spell at QPR, but could be used from the bench.
Defender Lamine Kone may also travel after playing an hour for the Under-23s last week following his recovery from a knee injury, but the game will come too soon for midfielder Jonny Williams as he steps up his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Didier Ndong serves the second game of his three-match ban after being sent of at Cardiff and Billy Jones will miss out through illness, while Darron Gibson (groin) and Duncan Watmore (knee) are still sidelined.
Birmingham are unbeaten in seven home league matches (W4 D3) against Sunderland since a 1-0 defeat in September 1997.
This is the first Championship meeting between these sides at St Andrew's since February 2007, when DJ Campbell equalised for the Blues in the last minute in a 1-1 draw.
Birmingham have scored eight goals in 14 home league games this season; their worst ever record at this stage of a league season. In fact, only three teams have scored fewer after 14 home games in the English second-tier.
Chris Coleman has won three of his last four trips to St. Andrew's in all competitions (L1), though the most recent victory came in November 2008 as Coventry manager.
Sam Gallagher has scored four goals in his last six Championship matches.
This will be Sunderland's fourth match against a side starting the day in the relegation zone this season - they are yet to lose any of the previous three (W1 D2); indeed, they are unbeaten in their last 25 second tier matches against sides starting that day in the relegation zone (W20 D5) since losing 4-0 away at Reading in October 1997.
This is a massive game at St Andrew's. Both these sides are in the relegation zone and desperate for a victory to boost their chances of survival.
A defeat would not be terminal by any means, as it's still far too early in the season for that, but it would provide a huge boost for either side if they can claim the win. For some reason, though, I just have a feeling that this will end goalless.
David Prutton predicts: 0-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)