With the football calendar back in full swing once again, teams across the EFL Championship are fighting to achieve their goals. Aiming to fulfil pre-lockdown objectives of promotion or safety.
For Wednesday's opponents, Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town, it is a case of the latter. As both sides will be hoping they can avoid starting next season in the third tier.
The task will be more difficult for the away side however, with Town having slipped into the relegation zone this past weekend. So a positive result here will be key.
Story behind the game
Since the restart, Birmingham have drawn both of their games, including having to come from behind twice against struggling Hull City. In fact, City have drawn six of their last seven league games, having not won since mid February.
So manager Pep Clotet will be hoping for the win that can end any lingering relegation fears. However, in search of a more crucial win is Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley, with the club currently sat third from bottom following defeat to high-flying Nottingham Forest at the weekend.
These sides met back in November at The John Smith's Stadium, with it ending in a 1-1 draw. Which seems to be a popular scoreline between these two, with four of their last six meetings in all competitions ending as such. Although, Birmingham will be looking for back-to-back home league wins over their opponents, having beaten them 2-0 the last time they came to St Andrews in the league.
Victory for Huddersfield will be crucial in their fight against relegation, but Birmingham will know they a victory could prevent themselves from being pulled into the end of season dogfight.
Clotet will likely have to make do without Ivan Sunjic and Marc Roberts, who are both yet to feature since the restart. Whilst defender Jake Clarke-Salter will be given a late fitness test after going off injured against Hull.
In the other camp, Cowley will be without midfielder Juninho Bacuna, who was sent off late in the Forest defeat. Meanwhile a last minute update will be provided on Steve Mounie, and Tommy Elphick remains out for the season with a knee injury.
(4-1-2-1-2) Camp, Colin, Dean, Gordon, Pedersen, Crowley, Bela, Gardner, Bellingham, Jutkiewicz, Hogan.
(4-2-3-1) Lossl, Duhaney, Stearman, Schindler, Toffolo, Hogg, King, Willock, Pritchard, O'Brien, Grant.
Jude Bellingham v Karlan Grant
The secret weapon for the Blues is young midfielder Jude Bellingham, who celebrated his 17th birthday this week. He was heavily linked with Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund earlier this year, but will first be looking to focus and inspire his boyhood club to victory before any potential transfer. He will be tasked with stopping the threat of Karlan Grant, who will be key to Huddersfield's survival chances. Grant has 17 goals this season, putting him fourth in the Championships top scoring chart. Which is a tally he'll be looking to add to in order to steer his side to three points.
Daniel Crowley v Harry Toffolo
In terms of threats for Birmingham, one man to look out for is Daniel Crowley. The former Arsenal youngster has five assists so far this season, making him one of their main outlets for chance creation. Looking to prevent any dangerous balls into the box will be Terriers defender Harry Toffolo. The full-back followed Cowley to the John Smith's Stadium from Lincoln City, and was recently given the Imps Away Player of the Season Award, despite leaving in January. And he will be looking to impress equally at his new home in order to achieve safety.
What the managers have said
Birmingham boss Pep Clotet has been hyping up his impact substitute from Saturday, Jeremie Bela, whilst speaking to the Birmingham Mail. He said:
“The game he played was a big statement for himself and for the confidence the team has in him.
“He is a massive player for us. This was his way for him to say 'Hey, boss, I am ready to start again'.”
Meanwhile Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley spoke to the press ahead of the game, stating a need for togetherness ahead of their relegation fight. He said:
“Ultimately it's about us. We have to get a consistent performance in both parts of the game.
“We are forever appreciative of the supporters and how they've supported us since the first day.
“We are working really hard with the group to give them happier days.”