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Birmingham City will play hosts to table toppers Newcastle United in Matchweek 38 of the EFL Championship at the St. Andrews.
Gianfranco Zola’s men had a week off to build on their impressive hard fought 1-1 draw away at Cardiff City last Saturday and they will be hoping to get at least a point against the Magpies. The Blues have already played Rafael Benitez’s side three times this season, losing twice, both at St.James’ Park (3-1 and 4-0) and drawing the other game (1-1). In what could be a crucial game for Birmingham, Zola will be hoping that his side pull off a shock result in front of the home support.
The Italian will be without the services of defenders Cheick Keita and Michael Morrison due to knee and groin injuries respectively. Other than that, Zola has a clean bill of health and will look to field a strong line-up.
The 34-year old stopper has managed to keep just four shutouts so far this season but is the preferred option in goal.
The loanee from Arsenal has just made two starts so far in the Championship. But due to the lack of options, expect him to take the right-sided centre-back slot.
In the heart of the defence will be Ryan Shotton. The 28-year old has been an ever-present in the Birmingham backline and we don’t expect that to change.
Occupying the third defensive position will be veteran defender Paul Robinson. The 38-year old will have to muster up all his experience going up against the likes of Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle.
On the right of the midfield will be Emilio Nsue. The former Middlesbrough man has played in all but one game in the Championship after arriving in January and will start again on Saturday.
In the midfield, we will see David Davis make his 32nd Championship appearance. He will be tasked with marking Jonjo Shelvey and keeping him quiet.
Alongside Davis, it will be 26-year old Maikel Kieftenbeld. The Dutchman will look to make an impact from the middle.
And completing the midfield trio will be Stephen Gleeson. He will come into the line-up to replace Robert Tesche.
Occupying the left midfield position will be Jonathan Grounds. The versatile defender will have his task cut out against the pace and trickery of Matt Ritchie.
We expect a change in attack with the impressive Che Adams coming into the line-up for Craig Gardner. He will slot in just behind the main striker and try to make things happen in the attacking third for the Blues.
And leading the line will be the leading scorer for Birmingham this season, Lukas Jutkiewicz. He will be high on confidence having scored the late equalizer against Cardiff last weekend.