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Birmingham City v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Birmingham fan Adam says that he would like to see Dion Sanderson join permanently!

We spoke to Birmingham fan Adam Dee of the Blues Focus Podcast, ahead of today’s game to find out more about what Birmingham have to offer! Which players should Sunderland be wary of?

Photo by Gustavo Pantano/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: First and foremost, it looks as though a takeover could be on the horizon for Birmingham - what is the latest news on this and how are supporters feeling?

Adam Dee: The news is that of two simultaneous transactions which will hopefully take place in the coming months totalling around 45% of the shares in the club, including the stadium.

Since the recent statement from the club, fans are a lot more optimistic about the future of the club and finally, there may be a light at the end of the never-ending tunnel.

The main thing fans want is stability and hopefully, this staged takeover can be the beginning of that. Then we can look forward to building the squad next season and getting the ground fully open.

MC: In less positive news, Matt Southall, Paul Richardson & Maxi Lopez have all admitted to breaching EFL Regulations linking to their unapproved involvement with the club, what is the story behind this?

AD: Basically, false documents and greed. Matt Southall spearheaded the funding of the ‘takeover’ while Lopez and Richardson posed in front of the Sky cameras claiming they had ownership, but this was far from the case.

Although they put around 9 million into the running of the club, they had not been approved to do so by the EFL, resulting in these banning orders.

Reading v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship
While over half of the Championship clubs have changed managers this season, John Eustace is performing well in his first management role.
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

MC: One of few clubs not to sack their manager this season, Birmingham look like they’re on the right track to safety under John Eustace - how would you summarise his first season in charge?

AD: His first season has been a rollercoaster to say the least. Before the World Cup we were on track for a playoff push, but after the competition we looked like a completely different team and one that was staring relegation in the face.

However, Eustace has managed to steady the ship in recent games and after a very poor run of results he’s sured up the defence and we look like a solid unit once more.

We were favourites for relegation, but Eustace has proved his worth and he’ll no doubt be in the hot seat next term. Not to mention we’ve gained more points at this stage than the whole of last season!

MC: In terms of your current form, the Blues have lost just one of their last seven matches, are there any particular factors behind this great run?

AD: The main factor would be the defence. Trusty has been able to move to left-back from the centre with ease, while Kevin Long and Marc Roberts have formed a solid partnership just at the right time.

With John Ruddy behind them between the sticks, the form has been reminiscent of the start of the season.

Birmingham City v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
John Ruddy was reportedly wanted by Alex Neil during the summer.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

MC: We could not chat without me asking you about former Sunderland fan favourite Dion Sanderson, is he likely to return from injury today and would you like to see him join permanently?

AD: I think this fixture will come too soon for him, not to mention it will be hard to get in front of Roberts and Long in the pecking order at the moment.

That being said, he’s certainly up there in terms of players fans want to join permanently in the summer.

He seems to love his time around the place after his two stints at the club and is an excellent Championship player to have in your ranks.

MC: Birmingham possess three vastly experienced strikers in Scott Hogan, Troy Deeney and - what are their key strengths?

AD: Scotty Hogan is a poacher, Deeney is a powerhouse, and Juke is a handful for any defender.

Hogan has been out of form of late but has had very good spells earlier in the season.

On the other hand, Deeney has been injury prone this season and just when you think he’s gaining momentum in terms of good performances he’s sidelined so there’s not much to report on him lately.

However, Jutkiewicz has proved he’s still got a lot in the tank and has been the most consistent forward for us this campaign.

Birmingham City v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship
Lukas Jutkiewicz scored Birmingham’s sole goal during a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland earlier this season.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

MC: Aside from the above-mentioned players, which Birmingham players should Tony Mowbray’s side be wary of?

AD: Khadra is the first player who springs to mind. His energy and ability to score from nothing are what sets him above the rest, it’s just whether or not the Sunderland defence can nullify him as he’s been quiet the last couple of games.

Krystian Bielik has also been a shining light for us this season and will no doubt be a key figure for us in the middle of the park. Definitely those two.

MC: How do you think Eustace will approach the game tactically at the Stadium of Light?

AD: I think as Sunderland will be hoping to push for a goal to help their playoff chances, Eustace will set up to counter attack on Saturday with the widemen of Chong and Khadra, with Jutkiewicz in the middle.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Dion Sanderson made 27 appearances for Sunderland, scoring once.
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

MC: Are any players missing through injury and which players do you think will start?

AD: As you know Sanderson has been out through a back injury, and Deeney is still out for this one.

I think Eustace will go for this lineup - Ruddy, Colin, Long, Roberts, Trusty, Bielik, Chang, Hall, Khadra, Chong, Jutkiewicz.

MC: Sunderland’s last home victory against Birmingham came back in 2010 - what is your score prediction for this time around?

AD: I’m going for a 1-1 draw. I think Blues have enough to cancel Sunderland out this time round, although subconsciously our players may already be on the beach after hitting the 50-point mark.


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