Birmingham v United- Preview

Last updated : 08 January 2010 By Manchester Evening News

With Nemanja Vidic (leg) joining Rio Ferdinand (back) on the sidelines, Sir Alex Ferguson will turn to the duo even though they were at the heart of a defence breached by Leeds last Sunday.

Paul Scholes (hip) is fit, while new arrival Mame Biram Diouf has gained clearance to play and, having been allocated Carlos Tevez's old shirt number (32), could be involved.

Boss Sir Alex Ferguson realises a sharp improvement is required if United are to end Birmingham's 12-match unbeaten run, a record that has seen Alex McLeish's men climb into the top eight.

As one of his old warhorses at Aberdeen, Ferguson has always kept a close eye on McLeish's progress.

And he has been hugely impressed at the work of a man who includes Rangers and the Scotland national team on his impressive CV.

"Alex has done a brilliant job at Birmingham," said Ferguson.

"He is a very progressive young manager. He has always been ambitious.

"Alex understands the history of Birmingham and you will see a change there over the next few years.

That change will also come as a consequence of Carson Yeung's takeover.

The Hong Kong businessman may not have spent any money since he took control from David Sullivan and David Gold but Ferguson believes he will provide fresh impetus.

"The change of owner has been a good thing for them," said Ferguson.

"It has given them a freshness. They have different people to work with.

"The old regime were set in their ways in terms of financing the team and there never seemed to be any great financial support in the sense of understanding how big Birmingham could be.

"If you go back quite a few years, Birmingham were the bigger team in that area. Obviously Aston Villa have surpassed them in every way over the past few decades.

"But it appears Birmingham are trying to buy one or two players for a considerable amount of money. It is the first time I can remember them doing that.

"They are on the way up that is for sure."

Birmingham defender Stephen Carr will return after suspension for the game.

Carr missed the goalless away draw with Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup while serving a one-game ban for incurring five bookings.

McLeish will have to reorganise his bench as fringe players Lee Carsley, Stuart Parnaby and Gregory Vignal are all ruled out through injury - but number two goalkeeper Maik Taylor has recovered from a back problem after having an injection as City look to extend their unbeaten league run to 12 games.

Birmingham are confident the clash with United will go ahead, despite weather-enforced postponements of other Premier League games.

A statement from Birmingham read: Club officials have today met with local authority inspectors who have reiterated that they are happy for the fixture to go ahead. This followed an inspection earlier in the week.

Discussions have also taken place with the emergency services and the Premier League since the recent bad weather took hold and club staff have worked around the clock to ensure the St. Andrew's walkways, car parks and other areas are clear.

The club's undersoil heating system means there are no problems at all with the pitch.

Birmingham City (from): Hart, Maik Taylor, Doyle, Carr, R Johnson, Dann, Queudrue, Martin Taylor, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, McFadden, Fahey, D Johnson, McSheffrey, Jerome, Benitez, Phillips.

Manchester United (from): Kuszczak, Foster, Neville, Rafael, De Laet, Brown, Evra, Fabio, Valencia, Park, Carrick, Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Gibson, Giggs, Obertan, Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Welbeck, Diouf, Tosic.

Birmingham league form: WWDDW

United league form: LWLWW

Key opponent: Lee Bowyer - midfielder is close to his best form

Prediction: Birmingham 1 United 2 - A tough game for United, but with Birmingham at home, it may leave them open to counter attacks 

Source: Manchester Evening News

Source: M.E.N.