Writer: Andy Morgan
Date:Thursday November 20 2008
21 November 2008
The next former Premiership side to try their luck at fortress Liberty are Alex McLeish`s Birmingham City.
The Blues come to South West Wales where Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Wolves have all had their reputations as big clubs shown to count for nothing against the irresistible force of Roberto Martinez`s Swans - and of course the vocal Jack Army.
The Swans have put three goals past all of the fore mentioned clubs at home, and another former top flight team, QPR, were very fortunate to escape the Liberty with a point.
But out of all the so called bigger clubs to visit us this season, Birmingham arguably contain the most quality. An attack that includes Seb Larsson, Cameron Jerome, James McFadden and a certain Kevin Phillips is enough to strike fear into every defence in the league.
Add to that a midfield packed with top flight and international experience including one of Everton`s key players last season, Lee Carsley, and the Swans face a tough test tonight.
But Roberto`s men have risen to most challenges put in front of them this season. Reading aside, El Gaffer`s side have flourished at Championship level and could climb into fourth with a win. And you thought play - off talk hit fever pitch this week…
Birmingham`s form has been inconsistent of late, with their win at home to Charlton last week their first in four outings. The Swans are brimming with confidence after a victory at Norwich that Martinez described as a 'massive step forward` for his young team.
Roberto Martinez spoke to the Western Mail about the possibility of Jason Scotland playing against Birmingham:
"We will do everything we can to get Jason on the pitch. But he needs to be 100%."
"The last thing we want is to have people on the pitch that aren`t 100%. We can`t afford to do that because it wouldn`t be good enough against a team like Birmingham."
"Jason always wants to play. He is one of those people that gives you the impression he doesn`t always care, but is really a natural winner that wants to be involved in every single game."
Artur Krysiak has warned his parent club to be wary of the threat Swansea pose. Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, he said:
"Swansea are a very good side, you have to respect them."
"Before I joined them, I thought they were perhaps a little bit young to be able to play against the difficult teams like Birmingham and Wolves. After Cardiff City I changed my mind."
"They`ve impressed me and done very well the last few weeks. I think in the next few years, they could easily be challenging to get into the Premier League, and might get there."
"They attack with speed and are very technical, they have players from Spain as you would expect being managed by Roberto Matinez, and I expect Birmingham will be given a tough game."
Tom Butler and Dorus de Vries may both feature tonight, the latter the more likely to claim a starting spot after a rapid recovery from a broken cheekbone. Jason Scotland may start following international duty with Trinidad and Tobago in midweek. Should Martinez not deem last season`s top scorer fit to play, Gorka Pintado is favourite to start.
Ferrie Bodde- The Dutch maestro has been at the heart of everything good the Swans have done this season, and will be looking to prove his Premiership potential against a strong Blues side.
Championship favourites Birmingham are without Nigel Quashie (suspended) and long term injury absentees Gary McSheffrey, Garry O`Connor, Damian Johnson and Stuart Parnaby.
Lee Carsley- The experienced midfielder played a pivotal role in Everton's success last season and his tussle with Bodde could prove key
Swansea are one of only two teams in the Championship to remain unbeaten at home in the league this season. The other is Reading.
Birmingham have the second best defence in the Championship, but have scored two goals fewer than the Swans this campaign.
Tuesday 25th November:
Coventry City v Swansea City
Birmingham City v Ipswich Town
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Date:Thursday November 20 2008
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