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Preview: Birmingham City v Rovers

Game number one of 2021 sends Rovers to St Andrew's to take on Aitor Karanka's Blues

2 January 2021

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Rovers hit the road again for the first game of 2021 against Birmingham City later today at St Andrew's.

It's a return to the scene where Rovers registered a big victory at the beginning of the season, with the 4-0 thrashing over Coventry City coming at today's venue back in October.

Tony Mowbray's men come into this afternoon's game looking to bounce back from the defeat to Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night, whilst Birmingham suffered a heavy home defeat to Derby County on the same evening.

Rovers are sweating on the fitness of Ryan Nyambe and Daniel Ayala after both defenders were forced off against Huddersfield.

Hamstring issues could prevent the duo from featuring, with Bradley Johnson waiting in the wings to fill in at centre back in place of Ayala if required.

With Nyambe touch-and-go, John Buckley could again be called upon to feature at right back, as he did at Huddersfield.

Tom Trybull was taken off early on at the John Smith's Stadium in midweek and the German will have to be assessed before a decision is made on his involvement.

Elliott Bennett, Lewis Travis, Joe Rankin-Costello, Corry Evans and Scott Wharton will all definitely miss out on today's outing.

For Birmingham, Zach Jeacock (ankle), Caolan Boyd-Munce (thigh), Josh McEachran (groin), Alen Halilović, Marc Roberts (ankle) and Gary Gardner (hamstring) are all out through injury, but the Blues may have Steve Seddon available.

The left back was recalled from his loan spell with AFC Wimbledon, and Birmingham are awaiting confirmation on his eligibility for this afternoon's game.

And ahead of the contest, Blues boss Aitor Karanka is seeking home improvements.

“We are missing the crowd more than we think," the Spanish chief told the official Birmingham City website.

"It is not just for encouragement, it is to be concentrated on the games and to have the crowd behind you.

"Maybe you switch off, but when the crowd is in the stadium it is the opposite because you know they are there and you can’t make mistakes.

“Our biggest challenge on Saturday is to win at home.

"Tony Mowbray is doing a brilliant job, but it is not about Rovers, it is about Birmingham City Football Club and trying to win at home.”

Supporters can still purchase a live video match pass for only £10 for this afternoon's contest. To purchase yours, please click here.

A reminder that kick-off is at 3pm later on today.

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