Season Preview: Birmingham City
After a season of inconsistency Birmingham City supporters will no doubt be clinging to the hope that they can replicate some of their better patches of form from last season as they head into the new campaign.
It will undoubtedly be another tough season for Lee Clark and co. with recruitments so far coming from the bargain bin, but Birmingham are in that band of clubs that could finish almost anywhere from sixth to 20th, it`s just about hitting some form at the right time.
The losses of Jack Butland (returning to Stoke City after a loan deal), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) and Curtis Davies (Hull City) will hit the side hard.
Apart from former Blackpool defender Neal Eardley, all of City`s summer signings have something to prove in the Championship. As a result, they look set for another season of consolidation.
In: Tom Adeyemi (Norwich City, free), Neal Eardley (Blackpool, free), Lee Novak (Huddersfield Town, free), Darren Randolph (Motherwell, free), Andrew Shinnie (Inverness CT, free), Olly Lee (Barnet, undisc.), Matt Green (Mansfield Town, free), Dan Burn (Fulham, loan) & Kyle Bartley (Swansea City, loan).
Out: Nathan Redmond (Norwich City, undisc.), Jack Butland (End of loan) & Curtis Davies (Hull City, undisc).
Key Player - Marlon King: The veteran Jamaican forward will be Birmingham`s chief source of goals, as the squad stands, having scored 14 in all competitions last term.
Now 33, the former Hornet has a good record for The Blues, scoring 29 Championship goals in 60 starts over two seasons.
Previously of Coventry City, Middlesbrough, Hull City, Wigan Athletic, Leeds United, Gillingham, Nottingham Forest and Barnet, the 22-cap Jamaican international spent three years in WD18, scoring 36 goals in 77 league starts.
"I expect Birmingham's season to go much the same way as it did last year. Large swings in results and prolonged spells of good and bad form. That is because they are a young team, even more so this year with the likes of Steven Caldwell and Curtis Davies having moved on.
"They have brought in some good young talent Tom Adeyemi, Kyle Bartley and Dan Burn but with youth comes inconsistency. Playing in a big home stadium that will only be half full and brimming with expectancy will also be a challenge for those youngsters.
"Experienced heads like Paul Robinson, Nikola Zigic and Hayden Mullins will need to stand up more than ever. Lee Clark is turning Birmingham around but they will need to be patient."