In-form Championship side Birmingham City will hope to reach the last 16 of the FA Cup by seeing off West Bromwich Albion in a West Midlands derby.
The change in fortunes that Gary Rowett has overseen since becoming manager at St. Andrew’s at the end of October has been nothing short of remarkable. The club was second from bottom back then, but an amazing run of results has seen them move all the way up to 11th.
This is particularly impressive given Birmingham’s off-field problems, and the key behind the recent success has been a much-improved defensive record, while summer signing Clayton Donaldson has started hitting the net with regularity.
The feel-good factor surrounding the hosts ensures that visiting boss Tony Pulis faces a tricky task in continuing his own impressive start at a new club. Not a single goal has been conceded in three games, with resilience and hard work crucial in recent games against Hull City and Everton.
It could prove to be a fine opportunity for some of Albion’s fringe players to impress Pulis, who has been looking to add to his squad during the transfer window, but Saido Berahino will continue to be their main attacking threat. The England U-21 international’s duel with Blues starlet Demarai Gray could be one of the highlights of the match.
The home side are without Gavin Gunning but could hand a debut to new loan signing Lloyd Dyer. West Brom are still missing Jonas Olsson, and Youssouf Mulumbu is on international duty.
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