Birmingham City welcome Derby County to St Andrew’s in Friday Night Football, as the Sky Bet Championship returns from its first international break of this season.
Victory will send Birmingham up to fourth ahead of Saturday’s action, whereas Derby can leapfrog their hosts with a win and climb as high as sixth.
Ivan Sanchez is sidelined for Birmingham after opting for surgery on a pelvis injury and his return date is currently unclear.
Adan George is also ruled out after having surgery during the international break on a knee injury suffered during pre-season, ruling him out until next Spring at earliest.
Troy Deeney could make his debut after signing for the club on a free transfer from Watford on Deadline Day.
Derby could be without Tom Lawrence due to a groin injury but the Wales forward will be handed a late fitness test.
Phil Jagielka (eye) is definitely available for selection but Festy Ebosele, Krystian Bielik (both knee), Colin Kazim-Richards (Achilles) and Jason Knight (ankle) are still ruled out.
- Birmingham have won just one of their last ten league meetings against Derby (W1, D2, L7).
- Derby are unbeaten in their last eight trips to St Andrew’s against Birmingham City (W5, D3).
- Birmingham have won just one of their last five league matches at home (W1, D2, L2).
- Nathan Byrne and Louis Sibley have both collected three yellow cards apiece in Derby’s opening five league matches, more than any other Derby player this season.
- Birmingham drew their only previous match refereed by Gavin Ward this season, coincidentally against Midlands opposition at home as they held Stoke to a goalless draw in mid August.
Birmingham City come into this match in positive form with eight points from their opening five matches, yet they are yet to score at home so this will be a tough test of where they’re at but Troy Deeney’s arrival should add extra firepower up front and motivate the home crowds.
Derby meanwhile continue to have off-pitch distractions but are grinding out results on the pitch, even though they’re yet to score more than once in league matches this season with three draws from their opening five fixtures.
On that note, I can see a competitive match here because Birmingham will be eager to push forward and show more attacking quality at home, whereas Derby are solid across the pitch yet can’t seem to find those second goals to kill matches off so a draw wouldn’t be a shock here.
Prediction: Birmingham City 1-1 Derby County
Result: Birmingham City 2-0 Derby County