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Blues’ predicted XI vs Nottingham Forest – who starts at the back

Lee Bowyer felt the only difference between Birmingham City and QPR at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Tuesday night was one man.

Ilias Chair’s brace gave the hosts a 2-0 victory and condemned the visitors to their third defeat in four matches.

Blues have a chance to improve that situation when Nottingham Forest come to St Andrew’s on Saturday.

They do so having won their first game under new coach Steve Cooper – and having lifted themselves out of the bottom three.

But which team will Bowyer pick? Blues writer Brian Dick has a go at predicting.


The downturn in results has led to plenty of discussion about which system best suits the players currently available – bearing in mind there are several who aren’t.

Gary Gardner, Ivan Sanchez and possibly Kristian Pedersen are all going to be missing.

Bowyer has been consistent in his set-up so far, starting with a 3-4-3 or a variety, thereof.

He will be mindful of the fact Forest started with a 3-4-3 at Barnsley in midweek before changing to a 4-2-3-1 and having a lot of joy with three goals in 20 minutes.

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Through the pace of Alex Mighten and Brennan Johnson they exploited space behind the Tykes’ wing-backs and down the sides of their of their wide centre backs. Sound familiar?

However, in the absence of an optimal alternative, I just don’t see the Blues head coach changing his set-up on a relatively short turnaround, so I’d expect a 3-4-1-2.

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Matija Sarkic continues in goal, but the back three will depend on the availability of the hamstrung Pedersen. Bowyer suggested he might wait until after the international break just to be sure the Dane won’t break down again.

With that in mind – combined with question marks over Marc Roberts’ fitness and form, I wouldn’t be surprised to see George Friend come back into the side – Dion Sanderson moves back to the right of the three and Harlee Dean in the middle.


The central midfield picks itself, Ivan Sunjic and Ryan Woods. Maxime Colin is a lock at right wing-back and there aren’t really any other contenders for the left. Jeremie Bela will have to put in another Herculean shift.

Predicted Birmingham City team vs Nottingham Forest
Predicted Birmingham City team vs Nottingham Forest.


Despite recent missed chances, Tahith Chong is the man to unlock the opposition. In every game there are two or three touches that are next level.

Scott Hogan is the only Scott Hogan-like option in the Scott Hogan role. Troy Deeney has the shirt ahead of Lukas Jutkiewicz and is very understandably being given the chance to integrate himself into his new club.

BLUES (3-4-1-2): Sarkic; Sanderson, Dean, Friend; Colin, Sunjic, Woods, Bela; Chong, Deeney, Hogan.

Read More: Birmingham City star opens up on game that ‘cost us a lot’ and putting it right against Nottingham Forest

Read More: ‘A Birmingham town’ – Troy Deeney delivers his verdict on the Aston Villa and Birmingham City rivalry

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