Birmingham City vs Middlesbrough preview: How to watch, kick off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Birmingham City currently sit in 17th place, losing their last game 3-2 against Cardiff City at the Cardiff City Stadium , with captain Sean Morrison grabbing the decisive goal in the 89th minute. 

7th placed Middlesbrough secured back-to-back home wins on Wednesday, beating Luton Town 1-0 courtesy of a second half Chuba Akpom strike.

  • Team news

Aitor Karanka will have Kristian Pedersen available for Birmingham after serving a one-match suspension, and Jeremie Bela could be ready to start this weekend as the winger looks to regain full fitness after suffering a knee injury last month. 

Grant Hall and striker Ashley Fletcher remain long-term absentees for Neil Warnock's side,  whilst Marcus Browne could return to the bench following a hamstring problem.

  • Predicted lineups

Birmingham City:

Etheridge; Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Kieftenbeld, Sunjic, Sanchez, Toral, Bela, Jutkiewicz.

Middlesbrough:

Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair, Bola, Howson, Saville, Morsy, Johnson, Watmore, Akpom.

  • Ones to watch

Birmingham: Iván Sánchez

Sánchez was the standout performer for  Blues on Wednesday, causing Cardiff problems with his pace and power on the counter attack. The Spaniard scored Birmingham's second goal on Wednesday, capping off an excellent team move with a tidy finish into the bottom corner. Karanka's side will look at soak up Middlesbrough's pressure and hit them on the counter attack on Saturday, and Sánchez has recently shown how dangerous he can be from this position.

Middlesbrough: Chuba Akpom

Akpom netted his first Championship goal since September on Wednesday, and the striker seems to be impressing his manager Neil Warnock, who has selected Akpom over Britt Assombalonga for the last two Championship fixtures. The striker will look to keep his place in the starting eleven and score in back-to-back games, guiding Middlesbrough to a crucial win which would see Boro edge closer to the top six. 

  • Previous meetings

The most recent meeting between the two sides at St. Andrew's came last year, as Daniel Ayala's 87th minute equaliser was cancelled out by  Odin Bailey's first senior goal two minutes later to make the score 2-1. 

The game will be available to watch at 3pm on Saturday via a match pass available on both clubs iFollow accounts for £10 respectively. 

  • Managers thoughts

Both managers will be looking to grab vital wins at opposite ends of the table and Birmingham head coach, Aitor Karanka was left feeling frustrated after midweek defeat, stating ''It's obviously frustrating because we have been working really well, we have played three good games in the last week and again individual mistakes have cost us the last two games.

“It’s something to be frustrated by, something to keep us going because this league has one good thing – we have another match on Saturday to bounce back.''

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock spoke about George Friend and Adam Clayton, two players that helped Middlesbrough towards safety last season, and now the pair both play for Birmingham reuniting with former Boro boss, Aitor Karanka. 

“I rang them both up when they signed for Birmingham and said how pleased I was for them.

''They both wanted to play on after the restart. They weren’t looking for an easy way out, they wanted to help Middlesbrough stay in the Championship. So all credit to them because they were pivotal to us staying up last season.''

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