Birmingham City and Stoke City head into the weekend having both enjoyed a good first week of their season, with three points picked up last weekend and a first round Carabao Cup victory in midweek. Therefore, something has got to give when they come head-to-head on Saturday.
Lee Bowyer’s Blues caused a shock as they beat promotion candidates Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane on the opening day through Maxime Colin’s header. 18-year-old full back Marcel Oakley then scored the winner on his senior debut in a 1-0 win over Colchester United in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
Summer signing Sam Surridge has already stolen the headlines in his short spell in the Potteries, he scored a late winner as Stoke defeated Reading 3-2 last weekend. Surridge was also on the scoresheet in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory against Fleetwood Town to send Michael O’Neill’s side into the next round of the Carabao Cup.
Manchester United loanee Tahith Chong is the only doubt for the hosts after not training all week up to Friday. Bowyer will have to make a decision on his fitness closer to the game.
Elsewhere, there are no other injury concerns for the Blues, which could result in a similar side to their season opener at Sheffield United.
Defender Harry Souttar is likely to make his first league appearance of the season, having played the full 90 minutes and getting on the scoresheet against Fleetwood. Souttar was only fit enough for the bench against Reading last weekend, after just returning from Olympic duty with Australia.
Surridge will be hoping for his first league start on Saturday, as he looks to add to his two goals in as many games so far.
Birmingham City (3-5-2): Sarkic; Roberts, Dean, Pedersen; Colin, Gardner, Woods, Chong, Bela; Hogan, Jutkiewicz.
Stoke City (3-5-2): Bursik; Ostigard, Souttar, Wilmot; Smith, Powell, Allen, Vrancic, Doughty; Brown, Surridge.
Ones to watch
If Chong is fit enough to make the match day squad, then it will be a big boost for Bowyer and his side. The Dutch youth international impressed on his debut at Bramall Lane, as he provided a creative element in what is renowned to be a structured Birmingham outfit. Chong also showed maturity out of possession, as he was awarded man of the match for his display.
Mario Vrancic arrived at Stoke on a free transfer in the summer off the back of two promotions to the Premier League in three seasons at Norwich City. Vrancic has added experience in the middle of the park in what is a young Potters squad, whilst also being a calm head on the ball. His set piece deliveries are a constant threat, as proven in midweek when his corner found Souttar; a combination which could be very pivotal for O’Neill’s side this season.
Birmingham were 2-0 winners over their visitors the last time these two sides met in April 2021, thanks to goals either side of half time from Lukas Jutkiewicz. The reverse fixture ended in a 1-1 draw at the Bet365 Stadium in October 2020. St Andrews is not a happy hunting ground for the Potters, who have not won a game in 90 minutes there since October 1988.
How to watch
This game is a 15:00 BST kick-off, but unfortunately cannot be watched in the UK. However, it can be watched internationally through the clubs' streaming services on their website.