Date: 27th October 2017 at 1:51am
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Birmingham City have been busy preparing all week ahead of the biggest clash in Midlands football this season against Aston Villa and manager Steve Cotterill will have had one mindful eye on this game during last weekend’s defeat against Millwall at the Den.

Last Saturday, Blues were undone by two second half goals against the robust London side and they will have to have plenty more fight about them in this game on Sunday if they want to get anything out of it.

Blues fans will be expecting not just 100% from the players bit twice as much as that because it means more to the fans that it does the players on the pitch so they best be up for it.

With that in mind, in my opinion, Cotterill must recall both Craig Gardner and club-record signing Jota to the starting line up if he wants to cause Villa problems.

Former West Bromwich Albion man Gardner knows all about the derby game against the Villa having played in the famous quarter final win at St.Andrew’s in 2010 when Nikola Zigic scored a late winner to send Blues on their way to what would be a memorable cup campaign.

His passion for a game like this is something that other players will feed off, especially those who haven’t been in this sort of fixture before, so I think recalling him to the starting XI could be crucial to Blues getting something out of the game.

Then you have the somewhat unknown quantity to Blues fans in summer signing Jota.

The winger arrived from Brentford for a rumoured fee of around £8 million on deadline day in August but he has only featured a handful of times due to a hamstring injury but now he is back fully fit it is time for Cotterill to unleash what could be his secret weapon.

Everyone in the Championship knows exactly what the Spaniard can do and what better time to bring him into the ring of fire than against Villa.

Jota has the technique and finesse that Blues have been lacking in recent weeks so for me, he is an instant starter because hopefully he can produce that one piece of magic that puts his name down in the history books once again.