As the Championship approaches its conclusion, both Charlton Athletic and Birmingham City will be hoping to secure victory in a relegation six-pointer at St. Andrew’s. After both clubs lost at the weekend, the sides will lock horns on Wednesday knowing that a defeat could see them drift ever closer towards the third tier.
Charlton begin Wednesday just one place above the relegation zone, while manager-less Birmingham will start proceedings placed eighteenth in the Championship. Victory for Charlton would see the Addicks leapfrog Birmingham on goal difference.
The hosts, led by the caretaker manager double-act of Steve Spooner and Craig Gardner, are expected to make changes following their 2-0 defeat against Reading at the weekend. Dan Crowley and Jeremie Bela could return to the starting line-up after featuring from the bench against the Royals.
Jake Clarke-Salter and Kristian Pedersen are both injury doubts for Birmingham, after they picked-up minor injuries at the weekend.
Despite ongoing speculation regarding his future, Jude Bellingham is expected to start for the hosts.
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer has a full squad at his disposal ahead of Wednesday’s clash. Andre Green and Lewis Page both returned to training on Monday, following spells on the injury table. Both Green and Page are expected to feature on the substitutes bench, while Sam Field and Jake Forster-Caskey could return to the starting line-up.
Birmingham are winless since their 1-0 victory over Barnsley in February, a dry patch that resulted in the termination of Pep Clotet’s time with the club. The Blues have picked-up just two points from their last six matches, and are currently on a four-game losing streak. The West Midlands club were beaten 2-0 by Stoke City on Sunday.
The visitors have accrued seven points from their last six matches, although Bowyer’s have lost their three most recent fixtures. Despite starting the day hovering nervously above the relegation zone, Charlton will arrive at St. Andrew’s as the favourites.
In the build-up to Wednesday’s clash, Bowyer said: “We’re in a good place, it is still in our hands. Birmingham is a massive game but that’s not going to define whether we stay up or not. It is over the three games that is important.
“Obviously, this is the next one in line and we have to do what we’ve done over the last few games and then, hopefully, things will start going our way.
“Going back to the weekend, we didn’t do anything wrong, I said that to the players. We played a good Reading team that beat Luton 5-0 the week before and they had one shot at our goal and that was from the penalty spot.
“Two decisions went against us, so we can’t be too downhearted, we are playing well.”
Following Birmingham’s defeat against Stoke City, caretaker manager Spooner said: "It's been difficult but somewhere during their careers they are going to have hard times.
“But that's part of their development. There will be nobody being soft on them they've got to accept criticism when it's deserved and get on with it and it's about them showing a level of performance.”
Ones to Watch
Bellingham will be the player to watch on Wednesday evening. Since courting global attention during his breakout season, Bellingham’s form in the final games of the season will be integral to his side’s Championship survival.
The travelling side – without the recently-departed Lyle Taylor – will be hoping for another commanding performance from Dillion Philips, after he impressed in goal at the weekend.
In the sides' only meeting this season, Birmingham secured a narrow 1-0 win at The Valley in September.
Bellingham scored the only goal of the game after 52 minutes, in what was a smash-and-grab victory for the travelling side. An ill-tempered affair in which Bowyer was red-carded against his former club, the Blues’ victory over Charlton was the Addicks first league defeat of the season.
Birmingham City (3-5-2): Camp; Colin, Roberts, Dean, Harding; Crowley, Bellingham, Sunjic, Bela; Hogan, Jutkiewicz.
Charlton Athletic (3-5-2): Phillips; Lockyer, Pearce, Sarr; Matthews, Pratley, Field, Forster-Caskey, Doughty; Bonne, Aneke.
Where to Watch on TV
The match is available to stream on a pay-per-view basis on both club websites via Blues TV and Valley Pass, the fixture was not selected by broadcasters to be aired as part of Sky Sports' coverage of the Championship.