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Birmingham Preview

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 20/03/2001

Grimsby Town welcome Birmingham City to Blundell Park in a fixture that comes at a vital time in the campaign for both clubs in their respective battles at opposite ends of the table. Town have collected 4 points from their last two games in the Mariners' fight against relegation.

The Blues in contrast have slipped up in both of their last two outings in the Midlands side's bid to claim the 2nd automatic spot behind runaway leaders and champions elect Fulham. The Blues currently lie in 4th spot in the table, with the Mariners languishing in 19th position.

Grimsby face City for the first time this season, the fixture having originally been called off at 1.30pm on Sat 11th November after a waterlogged pitch at Blundell Park. The two teams are due to meet again next month at St Andrews.

Grimsby Town

Grimsby manager Lennie Lawrence believes the first target for the Mariners is to avoid defeat. "It's important that we don't lose, and it's important that we keep putting something in the points column." said the Town boss going into the game, after he saw his side enjoy a fair share of fortune and collect all three points at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

Michael Jeffrey comes in for the Mariners to replace injured striker Bradley Allen who faces a further long injury lay-off after yet another Achilles problem.

Defender Zhang Enhua (left) is also rated doubtful for the fixture, in what would be the Chinese international's last home game on loan from Chinese side Dalian Shide. The central defender is rated 50/50 to be passed fit to play the game after a precautionary X-ray on a foot injury. Peter Handyside stands by to take up Zhang's central defensive berth alongside club skipper Paul Groves. Elsewhere the Mariners are expected to be unchanged from the team which triumphed over QPR.

Birmingham City

Birmingham striker Andrew Johnson (left) is expected to start the match after having been knocked out during the Blues' 1-0 defeat away at Stockport last Saturday. Johnson was stretchered off after a clash of heads wearing a neck brace, and had to go to hospital following the incident. The 20 year old striker was however found to have no lasting injuries upon examination.

Johnson's namesake Michael missed the Stockport defeat with a back injury but the Jamaican international defender may make a return to the squad if passed fit. Martin O'Connor, Danny Sonner, Stan Lazaridis and Dele Adebola are all out with injuries at the moment, so Birmingham manager Trevor Francis is forced to name a makeshift starting eleven.

Predicted Team

1. Coyne
2. McDermott11. Groves4. Handyside3. Gallimore
7. Donovan16. Coldicott6. Burnett10. Campbell
28. Cornwall9. Jeffrey

Subs: Croudson, Willems, Pouton, Butterfield, Rowan

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