Hull City host Birmingham City at the KCOM Stadium tomorrow where they will look to reduce their deficit on the Championship’s play-off places.
We caught up with Birmingham Live’s Birmingham City writer Brian Dick for the inside track on how the Blues have been performing this season.
Birmingham City head into the match 15th in the Championship table and a couple of points below Hull City. How has their season been so far?
Up and down, when they've been good they've been very good - I can't remember seeing a Blues side outplay an opponent quite as emphatically as they did for half an hour at Cardiff when they went 1-0 ahead and could have been two or three clear.
The trouble is they weren't, didn't convert their pressure and ended up losing 4-2. It's all about turning good build-up play into goals. But individually you'd say five or six of their key players are having very good seasons.
What sort of football is Pep Clotet best known for?
So far he's tried to introduce more of a passing style, playing out from the back, between the lines and being quite adventurous. That ambition has been tempered a little bit in recent away matches - and they were a bit more direct against West Bromwich Albion last time out - but the over-riding philosophy is to try and pass their way through or round teams. It's been pretty good to watch to be fair.
Who are the biggest threats that Hull City should be wary of?
For all that talk of playing open, attacking football - the lack of end product or quality into the box means Blues' greatest threat remains set-pieces. Harlee Dean got off the mark last week and Kristian Pedersen has been pretty good in the opposition box too.
However, if they can get the right service into Lukas Jutkiewicz, we saw against Albion just how deadly he is with his head. He's got six so far this season and is on course for another solid campaign by his standards. Jeremie Bela has also shown remarkable technical ability from dead-ball situations in the last couple of matches. For the first time in a while you're confident Blues are going to hit the target from a free-kick.
Birmingham City have not won for 10 years against Hull City in East Yorkshire? Has their away form been encouraging this season?
As I mentioned above, it's been up and down. The win at Brentford was very backs-to-the-wall. The victory at Charlton was a well-executed plan and they were far superior to Reading even if the scoreline didn't say so. They were a match for Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield too so they've come quite a long way on their travels. Literally and metaphorically.
A lot of talk about young teenager Jude Bellingham, how has he performed this season?
I will not mention the fact he is only 16-years-old. The most relevant fact is that he's gone from holding his own (no mean feat at his age), to actually becoming the players Blues look to when they need things tidying up. He's played five different positions in 19 matches and looks comfortable in all of them. Of course he's looked tired at times but when you think he might need taking out of the team, he responds with something better than we've seen before. Pep Clotet uses the phrase 'no ceiling' - and it's pretty accurate.
Birmingham could be missing a few players through injury, is the squad deep enough to cater for that?
The fact two of the injuries have come in the same position - centre back - has stretched things pretty tight. Marc Roberts was in the midst of his best season in a Blues shirt, while Jake Clarke-Salter had started to look very, very composed. Harlee Dean has come back in but alongside him it's a choice between two home-grown defenders. Wes Harding has played a couple of games at centre back but looks a better right back at this stage in his career - and 20-year-old Geraldo Bajrami made his debut against Albion.
And finally, a score prediction?
I always go 2-1 Blues and have yet to be right - so I'm going 2-1 Blues. They've got a goal threat and are more solid away from home now. The absolute key will be denying Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki the space in which they thrive.
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