Birmingham City boss happy with turnaround in form ahead of crunch Sunderland clash

Birmingham manager Steve Cotterill
Birmingham manager Steve Cotterill

Birmingham City boss Steve Cotterill believes his men are turning a corner, going into tomorrow’s potentially pivotal home Championship clash with Sunderland.

While Sunderland had a weekend off, a much-changed Blues team forced a 1-1 FA Cup fourth round draw away to Premier League side Huddersfield on Saturday.

Birmingham’s fringe men impressed in the second half against the Terriers and more than deserved the replay, as their unbeaten run reached six in all competitions.

The Blues may also be able to get a loan signing in time to face Sunderland in a battle of two of the bottom three, with Chelsea midfielder Kasey Palmer reportedly poised to join the St Andrrews outfit.

Cotterill, though, is not confident of making a breakthrough.

“I haven’t thought we’ll do any business up until now and nothing has changed in my mind to make me think all of a sudden we’re going to spring a rabbit out of the hat,” he said.

Reflecting on Blues’ improved run of form, Cotterill added: “What we’ve done is get our head down, work with the boys we’ve got.

“You would have seen over the last six weeks there’s been a great improvement in them, great improvement in their spirit.

“I think cutting your squad can work for you as well so I think the balance there now – even though we haven’t brought anybody in – is better than it has been.”

On Saturday’s display, with Lukas Jutkiewicz cancelling out Steve Mounie’s Huddersfield opener, Cotterill said: “I’m not really surprised that the lads have gone out there and put a shift in like that because I see them do that in trainingd.

“I’m really pleased for them. We’ve done a lot of work, a lot of preparation coming into this game – as much as we’ve done with the team that have been playing in the league.

“There were no corners cut, no excuses going into this game and they executed the plan brilliantly.”

Cotterill, who made seven changes, felt aggrieved that Jutkiewicz had a second-half header ruled out for offside.

“It’s a real tight one and we’re slightly disappointed with that because getting a win would’ve been a fantastic result for us,” he said.

“It’s a great result anyway. We played well, especially making seven changes and great credit to those players coming in, their fitness levels were tremendous.

“It gives everyone a lift to not get beat. That’s the big thing. The club, over the last year or so now, has probably got used to getting beaten every week.”

Sunderland head to Birmingham in third-bottom spot on 25 points, one ahead of their hosts, who managed a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light last month, despite being down to 10 men.