“Blues go down, Blues go down, Blues go down together” – we all know the song, and on Saturday, how Blues went down! The worst part of the defeat was the manner of it, for the best part of 80 minutes; Blues didn’t even put up a fight. The team now need to pick up the remaining pieces and prepare to go again tonight against Blackpool. The question that remains is; What condition will the morale of the squad be in once that the dust settles, and battle commences this evening?
Blues unfortunately now have Marlon King on the long-term injury list, with the leading scorer having surgery yesterday to try to ensure that the injury can be cleared up in time for the start of pre-season. The problem is that if he requires more surgery, he could also miss some of next season too. The long-term absentees of Packwood, Carr, and Murphy will now have a new friend to talk to during rehabilitation. Steve Caldwell was still suffering from illness on Sunday, after being substituted in the first half against Hull on Saturday, and subsequently missed training, so the Scot may undergo a late test before Clark picks his team. Keith Fahey impressed during the Development Squad game against Crewe yesterday, which Darren Ambrose & Ravel Morrison also featured in. It has been spoken of this morning that Fahey was so impressive yesterday, that he could feature in the 18 tonight. Morrison, himself, bagged an impressive goal and could be in line for a return to the match day squad too. One player that will no doubt feature will be Shane Ferguson and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start the game, having come on in the second half of the Hull City game.
The visitors tomorrow are set to be without Chris Basham, Bob Harris, & Ian Evatt. However, Gary Taylor-Fletcher may also be a doubt after being replaced by loan striker Matt Derbyshire at the weekend. It’s also expected that another loanee, Gary MacKenzie will make his second start following his man of the match display against Bristol City at the weekend. Former Blues midfielder Barry Ferguson is also in the squad, after a loan spell at Fleetwood and could be set to feature against his old employers.
Blues can come into this match in the knowledge that it will be a tight affair – something that has been attested to in recent history. In the last 5 seasons, the clubs have contested 10 games (including last the play-off Semi Final last season). Out of these 10 games, Blues have won just 3 of these. Overall though, there have been 84 matches, with the first being way back in the 1896/97 season, when Small Heath won 1-3 away from home. Since then, Blues have won a further 29 games, with 19 ending in draws. The remaining 35 have been victories for tonight’s visitors.
After the showing at the weekend, I expect 3 or 4 changes. Even if he passes a fitness test, it could be high time to give HMS Caldwell a rest for a few games. Blues need to get out the blocks quickly, and this will probably lead to our usual 4-4-2 formation at home. I have a feeling we may see Zigic drop to the bench with Clark opting for a more pacey option of Wes Thomas.
Butland, Caddis, Davies, Robinson, Hancox, Burke, Elliott, Spector, Ferguson, Løvenkrands, Thomas