Football

Doyle back for Wolves

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Wolves are boosted by the return of striker Kevin Doyle for the Barclays Premier League derby against Birmingham at Molineux.

Doyle was rested for the 4-0 reversal at Chelsea last weekend after playing for the Republic of Ireland in their two-legged World Cup play-off against France.

But defender Ronald Zubar has suffered another injury setback and has been ruled out of the clash with Alex McLeish's side.

Right-back Zubar missed the game with Chelsea with a thigh strain. The 24-year-old returned to training on Thursday but suffered an ankle setback.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has vowed he can cope with the stresses and strains of Premier League management.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce underwent minor heart surgery on Friday and McCarthy accepts that stress goes with the job, but insists he will not let it affect his health.

"We all know the stakes that we are playing for," said McCarthy. "But I don't allow it to ruin my life. I can't say I am not thinking about it all the time because I am, but I have had a check-up twice a season for the last six or seven years.

"Jobs in general put you under stress. It is how you handle it that matters and whether you let it ruin your life. It was stressful at the top of the Championship last season because of the level of expectation that was on us, but it is more stressful where we are now."

Victory against Birmingham on Sunday would certainly ease the stress on McCarthy after Wolves slipped into the relegation zone on the back of just three points from the last seven games.

He added: "We have to get that scrappy 1-0 win from somewhere and then another one and then we will all get better on the back of that. I think you can say we are five points away from being thought of as a decent side."

Birmingham will again be without striker Garry O'Connor and on-loan Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tainio.

O'Connor has undergone surgery on a hip problem and will be out of action for several months while Tainio will require a knee operation which will also sideline him for a lengthy period.

Club captain Damien Johnson is available after a hamstring injury but is likely to be on the substitutes' bench after the loaning out of Jordon Mutch to Hereford.

Alex McLeish celebrates two years in charge of Birmingham this weekend and insists "substantial progress" has been made during that period.

The former Scotland boss failed to save Blues from the drop back into the Coca-Cola Championship at the end of the 2007-2008 campaign but guided them back to the Barclays Premier League at the first attempt.

Now City are nestling in a comfortable mid-table position and will be looking to extend their unbeaten league run to five games when they visit Wolves.

McLeish said: "It has been some education over the last couple of years. We have had all the emotions from A to Z and I can't believe it has gone so quickly.

"We are at a decent level if you compare us to two years ago. I believe we have made substantial progress on and off the pitch and, with the support of the new board, believe we can continue to improve as a club.

"We are improving and have just that bit more quality than two years ago but it is a work in progress. There is a still a lot of team building to be done and we hope we can take a significant step to doing that in January. If we've got Premier League ambitions, we need to bring in the quality."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Sunderland
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Championship
Chelsea
Premier League
Hereford United
Kevin Doyle
Alex
Jordon Mutch
Teemu Tainio
Garry O'Connor
Birmingham
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Damien Johnson
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