West Brom vs Birmingham City preview: Albion look to re-take top spot with derby win
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After dropping points last week at Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion head into their derby battle with Birmingham City in second place after Leeds United reached the summit for the first time since December 14 after beating Huddersfield Town on the same day.

The Baggies staggered to a 0-0 draw in Wales, and despite having 64% possession they only mustered one shot on target in the whole game.

Speaking to BBC Sport Slaven Bilic said: "We aren't over the moon, but it's a tough place to come because they have a team who have been very unlucky with recent results.

"It's good to get the clean sheet with a solid performance and to more or less control the game, but we know have to be better in terms of quality in the final third. That's what was missing today.”

Their West Midlands opponents, however, were not even good enough for a point as their poor home form continued, losing 3-1 to a Reading side with just two wins in 11 games going into the fixture.

The defeat to The Royals has left Birmingham without a win in their last five Championship games, languishing in 16th place, 23 points behind  West Brom who are a single point off the top of the table.

Last time out

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Charlie Austin came off the bench to win the game for Bilic’s side in a spectacular 3-2 victory at St Andrew's back in December.

Pep Clotet told BBC Sport after the game that: "It was a fantastic derby. Losing it is hard, but there are so many positives that we take from the game.”

The hosts led for a long time in that game but did not win, which has happened in the last three meetings between these two sides, with Birmingham also losing the last fixture at The Hawthorns and eventually losing by the same scoreline back in March last year.

Bellingham on his way out?

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City are likely to be without highly-rated teenager Jude Bellingham on Saturday with speculation of a move away in summer continuing to heat up.

One of the clubs supposedly interested are Manchester United, with the teenager pictured leaving Carrington with his parents on Monday, shortly followed by United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward (via Daily Mail).

Borussia Dortmund are also rumoured to have taken an interest in the 16-year-old, with The Guardian reporting that the German side are willing to pay upwards of £30million.

The Blues midfielder doesn’t turn 17 till June which is when he will be able to sign his first professional contract, and it is looking likely that it will not be with Birmingham.

Team news

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With another big game on against Brentford on Tuesday night, we could see Bilic rotate players in a couple of positions, with January signing Kamil Grosicki possibly replacing Callum Robinson who had a poor game against Swansea.

The hero of the reverse fixture Austin could start over Hal Robson-Kanu, who has bagged 10 goals this season and will likely be Bilic’s preferred option for that crunch clash against The Bees.

Midfielders Maikel Kieftenbeld and Kerim Mrabti replaced Ivan Sunjic and Bellingham in the defeat to Reading and they may start the game on Saturday with Clotet likely to shake up his side slightly after the poor performance last week.

Predicted line-ups

West Brom (4-3-3): Johnstone; O'Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Sawyers, Livermore, Krovinovic; Pereira, Austin, Grosicki.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Pedersen; Crowley, Sunjic, Gardner, Mrabti; Jutkiewicz, Hogan.