How ex-Sunderland man Dion Sanderson has fared at Birmingham with Wolves & Arsenal loanees key for the Blues

Sunderland are preparing to face Birmingham City in the Championship – but what can they expect from John Eustace’s side at St Andrew’s?

The Blues are 10th in the table ahead of the match and drew 2-2 with Swansea last time out, meaning they have lost just once in their last eight fixtures.

To find out more we caught up with Charlie Haffenden from Birmingham World on the latest episode of The Roar Podcast

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Dion Sanderson after scoring for Birmingham against Bristol City. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

How have Birmingham been playing in recent weeks?

CH: “On Tuesday night against Swansea it was a late equaliser from Troy Deeney, a boyhood Blue who came back and has been doing very well. He’s been a bit of a presence up top.

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“The fact that they didn’t give up and got a result so late on shows the unity they’ve got within the squad.

“They’ve not been losing many games, are defensively very solid and it’s a good time to be a Blues supporter at the moment.”

How has former Sunderland defender Dion Sanderson fared?

CH: “He’s a real physical player who can play central and play on the right of a three.

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"He just is a real powerhouse in the centre of defence. He’s still young at 22, come in having had experience at a Premier League club in Wolves.

"I think they would love to get him on a permanent basis with him being on loan at the moment. He really has fitted in that well.”

Who are Birmingham’s other key players?

“Auston Trusty who is on loan from Arsenal has been another player who has become so key at the back.

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“John Ruddy has shown a lot of experience between the sticks and been a central part of their success. It’s no coincidence that they are the second best defensive side in the league, with 18 goals conceded in 20 games.

“Scott Hogan has been very important at 30 years of age and is showing his experience. He’s got nine goals in 20 games.”

What system will Birmingham play?

"It’s 3-5-2 with Krystian Bielik as a central midfielder dropping back to provide support for the defence.”

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“It does rely on the right midfielders being fit.”

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What’s your predicted line-up?

CH: “Ruddy; Roberts, Sanderson, Trusty; Colin, Bielik, Chong, Bacuna, Longelo; Hogan, Jutkiewicz”