Birmingham City v West Bromwich Albion

Charlie Austin’s equaliser at Wigan on Wednesday extended West Bromwich Albion’s unbeaten run to 11 games
Follow live text coverage from 12:15 GMT on Saturday

Birmingham City winger Jeremie Bela is expected to miss Saturday’s lunchtime derby because of a groin injury.

He joins a number of Blues absentees, although the return of midfielder Fran Villalba is one positive piece of news for boss Pep Clotet.

West Brom defender Conor Townsend should retain his place as cover for the injured Kieran Gibbs.

Hal Robson-Kanu, Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana are all in contention to come into Slaven Bilic’s squad.

Albion surrendered top spot to Leeds during the midweek fixtures, but will return to the summit for a couple of hours at least if they avoid defeat at St Andrew’s.

Leaders Leeds host Cardiff at 15:00 GMT on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Spanish head coach Clotet takes charge of Blues in a West Midlands derby for the first time, having been confirmed as boss earlier this month after six months in interim charge.

Match facts

  • Birmingham City scored first in both last season’s Championship derbies with West Bromwich Albion but did not win either game – a 1-1 home draw before twice leading in a 3-2 defeat at The Hawthorns.
  • Blues have not won in six derbies with Albion (including a 2-1 FA Cup fourth round home defeat in January 2015) since Gary McSheffrey got both goals in a 2-0 win at St Andrew’s in October 2006.
  • The Baggies are unbeaten in their last 11 league games – their longest league run without defeat since a run of 12 from March-May 2010, also in the Championship.
  • Four of Lukas Jutkiewicz’s five goals in the Championship for Birmingham this season have been headers – all after the 64th minute or later.
  • On top of his five goals for Albion, on-loan midfielder Matheus Pereira has 10 assists this season – the best in the Championship.
  • Both of Blues’ last two goals conceded – against Reading and QPR – have been from set-pieces.
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Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet told BBC WM:

“It’s always a pleasure to ply against very good teams especially in derbies. They’re very good on the break and have real intensity in defence. They are very well balanced.

“I really respect what Slaven Bilic is doing. I like the way he works. It was the same when he was at West Ham too. He has put together a fantastic squad.

“But, as soon as the game starts, it’s about focusing on the strengths. And we just have to make it as difficult as we can for them.”


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