Sheffield Wednesday: Inconsistent Blues bid to make amends

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark
Birmingham City manager Lee Clark

SHEFFIELD Wednesday face “probably the most unpredictable team” in the Championship tonight.

hat is the view of Owls manager Dave Jones as they prepare to lock horns with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s, kick-off 7.45pm.

Lee Clark’s men are bidding to make amends after a humiliating 4-0 loss at home to Watford last weekend. Goals from boyhood Blues fan Troy Deeney (2), Ikechi Anya and Almen Abdi mean Birmingham continue to look nervously over their shoulder with 14 matches remaining. Indeed, just two points separate Birmingham and Wednesday in the standings and Clark’s troops are just four points above the drop zone.

It is a far cry from last season when Birmingham were challenging for promotion. The club finished fourth before being well beaten by West Ham over two legs in the play-off semi-finals.

Clark, who succeeded Chris Hughton at the helm last summer, has mustered a measly 10 victories from 36 in charge. After hosting the Owls, Birmingham head to bottom of the table Peterborough United; the next two matches could define their season.

Jones, along with coach Stuart Gray, watched Watford outclass Birmingham but has told his squad to beware of a backlash.

“They (Birmingham) are probably the most unpredictable team in this division,” he said. “They were on the back of not losing in five and then they go and lose quite heavily on Saturday.

“They have just had a bad result and they will be looking to put that right.

“They are trying to find a consistency in their play like a lot of teams do. They got a bit of a drubbing against Watford and will want to put that right in front of their own fans. They will not want another beating at home.”

Birmingham are poised to recall Nikola Zigic up front. The giant Serbian was in line to start against Watford but Clark dropped him after claiming the 32-year-old produced “the worst effort I’ve seen in 25 years of professional football” in training last week. But the Blues boss has been impressed with the attitude and application Zigic has shown since the public criticism and could get the nod to partner Marlon King.

“We have got to nullify their strengths and try and play to ours,” insisted Jones. “It will be a tough game. They have got some decent players. It is a super club. I really enjoy going there.”