Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Friday April 15 2011
Sunderland in a relegation fight after such a bright start to the season? Yes, we have returned back to our old ways of limping over the finishing line.
Steve Bruce will make a return to the club that helped his managerial career start and will be hoping for nothing less than all three points.
Birmingham have been poor in the season and were lucky to grab a point at the Stadium in our first home game.
This game is massive for both clubs as a win for Sunderland will climb them to above 40 points and kickstart us to more points before the end of the season.
We have to support the lads from the first whistle as this game could make or break our season.
"I had two years at Birmingham as a player and six as a manager so it`s had a big chunk of my career.
"It`s always decent to go back. But like any former club you go to, it`s only decent if you get a result.
"There`s about 11 of us in the fight and we need a win.
"If we can get that, I would think that will see us safe.
"We`ve got my two former clubs over the next two games and they`re arguably our most important games of the season.
"If we can win them both, then we`ve got a great chance of finishing in the top 10. If we don`t, then we`re in trouble. It`s as simple as that.
"We know the importance of the game and we`re up against it."
"But in those times as a player or manager you`ve got to work hard, stick together and see if you can turn it around.
"I know we are capable of getting a result at Birmingham."
Zigic and Bentley could both return from injury and Roger Johnson should shake off a knock to the head for this tough clash.
We cannot defend from corners or free kicks so having to mark Zigic will only make things harder.
We must ensure Turner and Onouha are on top form as we look to stop another defeat on the road.
Sunderland have been crippled yet again due to injuries.
Campbell and Bramble will both miss the rest of the season. Muntari will be out due to a calf injury and Bruce will replace him with the young and fresh Jack Colback.
He has been very, very average since his return from injury and he needs to pull his team-mates through with a good display or faces the backlash from a lot of angry fans.
If he can battle in the middle and set up chances we will all be happy, however he needs to avoid a booking as usual to perform to his best ability.
Sunderland have not won a top-flight match at St Andrew's since a 1-0 victory on 26 November 1983.
The Black Cats are winless in eight league matches, losing seven and drawing one (at Arsenal).
Birmingham have won five top-flight games at St Andrew's this term - Wigan and Blackpool are the only sides with fewer home victories.
Referee: Phil Dowd Assistant referees: Ceri Richards & Glenn Turner Fourth official: Mark Halsey
Birmingham 1 - 2 Sunderland We are not expected to win, we have hardly anyone on the bench to back us up incase of a bad game from the starting eleven but we MUST win this game.
Wigan arrive for yet another bottom of the table encounter.
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Date:Friday April 15 2011
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