Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday January 20 2012
WATFORD HEAD to St. Andrews, Birmingham on Saturday, scene of one of their most famous and nerve-wracking victories in recent memory - the 1999 Play-Off Semi-final penalty win.
A lot has happened since the Hornets beat the Blues on the way to the top-flight and neither side is of course still in the Premier League. Chris Hughton and his side will be out to change that though.
Currently situated in seventh place in the Championship, just two point outside of the Play-Offs, Brum have recovered from a stodgy start and look like a good bet for top-six spot.
It has not been easy for Hughton since his appointment in the summer. The former Newcastle and Spurs coach arrived to a club whose owner was under arrest in his home country, shedding it's experienced players for fun.
The likes of Ben Foster, Craig Gardner, Sebastian Larsson, Kevin Phillips, Lee Bowyer, Scott Dann, Roger Johnson, Cameron Jerome and Barry Ferguson all let following relegation - the bulk of the side built by previous boss, Alex McLeish.
Perenially overwhelmed by daunting tasks, Hughton got down to business quickly bringing in the kind of players who know their way out the division - Steven Caldwell, Jonathan Spector, Chris Burke, Wade Elliott and ex-Hornet, Marlon King.
After a few months of gelling, the side looks well-settled now and winger Nathan Redmond has been central to that.
At just 17, the home-grown winger has only started four games but has proven his quality in those starts and eight further substitute appearances. An England youth international, Redmond is blessed with searing pace and makes things happen for the Blues. Unsurprisingly, Redmond has been linked with a move to the top-flight.
At a similar end of the experience scale is former Watford loanee, Jordon Mutch.
Mutch, 20, has just returned from a long-term injury but has quickly forced his way back into the first-team reckoning.
Another England youth international, Mutch was imperious on loan at the Vic' last season and hugely missed when he returned to the Midlands in January. An astute passer who's able to break up the play, Mutch is the definition of a 'box-to-box' midfielder.
At the back, Liam Ridgewell is at the other end of the experience scale and continues to be an important cog in the Blues backline.
The former Aston Villa and England U21 cap can play at centre-half or left-back and has been a regular once again this season. The powerful defender racked up his 150th Blues start in the 6-0 trouncing of Millwall last time out.
Hughton is not helped by having a small squad and skipper Stephen Carr has been out with a knee injury so is unlikely to feature. Bo Myhill should return between the sticks after being rested in the F.A Cup.
Watford are still without Martin Taylor (toe) and Stephen McGinn (knee). Craig Forsyth's place in the side could be under threat but with so few options out wide the Scot could well continue. Jonathan Hogg missed the Royals clash with a knee problem and looks doubtful for a return.
Birmingham City: Myhill; Spector, Davies, Caldwell (c), Murphy; Redmond, Gomis, Mutch, Beausejour; Elliott; Rooney.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa (c), Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Eustace, Buaben, Forsyth; Sordell & Deeney.
Match Officials: (R) Mr T Kettle; (AR's) Mr D Plowright & Mr T Wood.
Date:Friday January 20 2012
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