Luke Turner looks ahead to tonight’s fixture…
Blues play their third home fixture in a week as they welcome Simon Grayson`s Preston North End to St Andrews this evening.
The last four games of the season could potentially see our intensity and energy slow down a little. However, I don`t think that Gary Rowett will allow for this to happen and the players should look to end the season in the strongest possible way.
Preston will also be up for the task later today as they have that added incentive of overtaking us in the league table if they can win the game.
If we continue from how we played on Saturday against Burnley, then I have no doubt that we will win this time around.
It is just a case of going again and replicating all the things we did so well against Sean Dyche`s Clarets. We might have lost the game but I was hugely encouraged by the performance and it certainly deserved more.
Preston are known for their solid shape at the back and they are right up there in terms of being one of the best defensive teams in the league.
However, they have struggled to score goals which has probably prevented them from pushing higher up the league, quite like us really.
Being the home team, I expect Blues to once again hold the initiative and take control of the game by attacking Preston from the outset.
However, with North End likely to play two up front, they will also pose us with difference challenges to think of.
Whether they start with Doyle, Beckford or Garner, there are players there that can both score and create goals. They are all slightly different to what we faced on Saturday against Barnes and Gray as there isn’t really that strong centre forward to hold the ball up.
Therefore, I expect them to be less direct and try to play through the middle of the pitch with Johnson, Gallagher and Reach all coming in from wide positions.
That amount of attacking talent on the pitch could help Blues in one way. It will leave a lot more space in the wide areas for the likes of Cotterill and Maghoma to exploit.
Diego Fabbrini is likely to get the nod to replace the suspended Jon Toral and it is about time the Italian reignited his St Andrews career as it has been very disjointed since he returned in January.
For him to be effective, he needs to find space, get on the ball and look to move it on quickly. Sometimes he can hold onto it for too long and then get crowded out before losing it.
I don’t expect it to be a classic as it is two teams who have struggled for goals but do have the advantage of defending well at times. Cue the 3-3 classic.
But, seriously, I will take the three points however they come as our record of late has pretty much been relegation form.
We can’t let ourselves drop further down the table and look back at it with slight disappointment. A St Andrews win is due so one this evening will be perfect.