Date: 7th September 2009 at 1:37pm
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Birmingham boss Alex McLeish looks set to give new boy Christian Benitez his first start for the club in Sunday`s derby with Aston Villa at St Andrew’s.

Benitez has impressed as a substitute during the opening couple of games of the season and has gradually been working his way up to full fitness after undergoing shoulder surgery at the beginning of the summer.

And McLeish is intimating he will promote him to the first XI for the clash with Martin O’Neill’s side.

The Blues boss said: ‘I’ve felt in recent weeks that Christian was more effective as an impact player.

‘But that may change in a week’s time (against Villa). If I can’t play him at home, then I will never play him.

‘I am pleased with his introduction so far and we have worked hard on his fitness.

‘When he came here, he was behind the rest – along with Giovanny Espinoza – in fitness terms.

‘Christian is at a good level now and looking dangerous and I think he is going to be a great acquisition to the club.’

McLeish will check on Benitez’s physical condition when he comes back from international duty.

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