Birmingham City eye return to Wembley

Birmingham City eye return to Wembley

Birmingham City manager, Alex McLeish, saw his team run out unlikely winners over strong favourites Arsenal last month and lifted the League Cup in one of the greatest moments of the clubs history. However, his Wembley dreams are not over for the season as Birmingham City are set to host Bolton Wanderers tonight, with a place in the Semi-Final draw up for grabs.

McLeish’s preparations have struck a blow recently being hit by an injury crisis ahead of today’s early kick-off at the St. Andrews Stadium. Lee Bowyer, David Bentley, Keith Fahey, Liam Ridgewell, Craig Gardner and Nikola Zigic are all doubtful to make a return to fitness for this afternoons tie. While Captain Stephen Carr, Alexander Hleb along with long-term casualties Scott Dann and James McFadden are definitely ruled out.

McLeish has described it as the worst injury situation he has experienced during his four year stint at the helm of the Blues. And it’s hard to disagree with him with many of his Carling Cup heroes being side-lined or doubtful. In addition, he will take a late decision on whether to include Barry Ferguson who has had an injection to ease the pain from his broken rib.

Birmingham's cup success seems to have come at a price as they are just one place above the drop zone, but McLeish insists this will not stop him from giving his all in the quarter-final.

"The league is more important to us, there is no doubt about it," he said. "But I owe it to the Birmingham fans to play the strongest team available."

"It might not be strong enough to win. I could play my best team against Bolton, and we could still lose because they are a good side."

"We could lose but we don't plan to. We are going to try to win this game."

Meanwhile, Bolton Wanderers boss Owen Coyle has no such problems and is targeting success in this competition as a tribute to the late Nat Lofthouse, who died aged 85 in January. His finest moment came for Bolton in the 1958 final where he bagged a brace to secure a win over Manchester United and lift the trophy.

Coyle said: "Everybody knows how sad everybody was with Nat's passing. But I think it's important we remembered all the good things that he brought not only to the football club but also the community.
"It would be lovely to achieve that, but we know there are some difficult obstacles in the way."
Jussi Jaaskelainen will make his 500th appearance for Bolton if he is picked for this game.
Coyle has no fresh injury worries, although Chelsea loanee Daniel Sturridge is cup-tied, which could open the way for Ivan Klasnic, who has scored the winner in the last two rounds.

Birmingham v Bolton kicks off at 12:45pm at St. Andrews Stadium.


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