Tired Blues are slipping up


DEAN Saunders feels Birmingham City’s dip in form in the Championship could be down to tiredness.

Tonight’s Championship fixture at the Keepmoat Stadium will be Birmingham’s 53rd of the campaign.

It has been a hectic programme for the Midlands outfit, who competed in the early rounds of the Europa League and also reached the latter stages of the FA Cup before being dumped out of the tournament by Chelsea on a replay.

The Blues, winners of the Carling Cup in 2011, are looking to regain promotion to the top flight at the first attempt.

However, a run of one win from their last seven outings has seen Chris Hughton’s men drop to sixth in the table, 13 points behind second-placed Reading.

Birmingham are strong on their own patch, where they have lost just once all season, but are a different proposition away from St Andrews. On the road, they have lost exactly half of their matches.

Saunders, the Doncaster Rovers manager, said: “Some of their results will be down to fatigue. Let’s hope they are a bit jaded when they come up to see us.”

England youth international Jordon Mutch, who had a loan spell at Rovers two years ago, is set to play in a central position as Birmingham look to boost their hopes of a top-six finish.

“Birmingham are big and strong so we are going to have to fight,” conceded Saunders. “Chris is a good manager and is very experienced. They have got some Premier League players.

“But if you are not right in the head or a bit jaded mentally then it can be hard.

“We have got nothing to fear. The performance against Crystal Palace was probably the best since I’ve been here. It is just not going for us. If we keep playing like that, it is impossible not to win games.

“We made a good team look like they were really struggling.

“We have to cut out the mistakes we are making. We went to Southampton and performed great but we got done by a corner.

“We didn’t get the result but we bounced back and got a point against Palace and we should have won.”

The midweek draw at Selhurst Park nudged Rovers a point closer to safety and Saunders believes 12 more points will be enough to keep them in the division.

“We have got to win four games,” he said. “If we win four games, we will have a great chance. “Birmingham is not a must win. We have to win four out of seven.”