Date:Sunday October 7 2007
7th October 2007
Life goes on and the fixtures don't stop coming just because we are still in mourning over the death of our UEFA Cup challenge. Therefore, what better way to console ourselves than burying Birmingham for the second time in under two weeks.
Steve Bruce brings his freshly promoted troops to Ewood keen to press on with what has been a solid start to their return to the top flight. However, they won't be receiving much of a reception due to the animosity that has grown between both camps, namely down to Robbie Savage's transfer to Blackburn in 2005.
Another former Brum star will be lining up against them on Sunday and that is Rovers' favourite son, David Dunn.
There is little need to give this game the build up as much is already on record about the differences between the sides. However, Hughes will be hoping the talking will be put aside and a professional performance ensues so that his troops can record a fourth straight win.
Brum have been resolute if unspectacular and we have what it takes to win. Goals from the old boys will add an extra touch and salt into a wound.
Santa Cruz on improving: 'I am looking forward for us improving as a team and personally also. I want to keep scoring and to keep helping the team to become better."
Hughes on hopes for Sunday: "Yes we are disappointed that we have gone out of Europe, but we take the positive that we in fact won the game and that comes on the back of two victories just prior to that. So we are still in decent shape and although we are disappointed, confidence-wise we are fine.
'We made it three wins in a row and I would like to think that we can add another win at the weekend."
Rovers have doubts over midfield duo Tugay and David Dunn. Dunn in particular will be keen to make the match as it will be a chance to get one over his former team.
Should neither make it it could see a return for Robbie Savage.
However, Ryan Nelsen and Jason Roberts are once again absent.
Rovers from: Friedel, Enckelman, Emerton, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Savage, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Derbyshire, Tugay, Mokoena, Rigters, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Brown.
The focus will undeniably be on the Birmingham old boys and both will be keen to score. Dunny has only found the net once since his return but keeps getting closer, whereas Savage hasn't quite had the impact he would have liked so far this season and has even been out of the side in the last three games so he will have a further point to prove to not only his old boss but Hughes too.
Former Rover Damien Johnson is going to be out for a further month so will miss the trip to the area where he earned his footballing education.
Mikael Forrsell is expected to be available.
Birmingham: Taylor, Kelly, Ridgewell, Djourou, Queudrue, Larsson, Nafti, Muamba, McSheffrey, Kapo, Jerome, Schmitz, O'Connor, Palacio, Kingson, Doyle, Martin Taylor, Sadler.
The Frenchman has been a revelation since signing in the summer. His signature proved to be quite the coup for Bruce and has put in some sound displays with some exceptional goals too. He is powerful and direct and will provide Birmingham with added attacking potential with his late runs into the area.
Mark Clattenburg will officiate the match. In his six games to date this season he has issued 19 yellow cards but hasn't produced a red card.
Rovers have been 'tight' so far this season, conceding few but equally struggling to find the net. Three were forced past Birmingham in the cup and I predict Rovers will find the net on more than one occasion again on Sunday. However, this tie will be much tighter but Rovers have the firepower. 2-1 and Dunn, if fit, will score the winner.
After the international break Reading come to Ewood on Oct 20.
Date:Sunday October 7 2007
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