Birmingham Vs Fulham, Sun 15 May 2011

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Birmingham will be without leading scorer Craig Gardner and defender Liam Ridgewell through suspension for Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Fulham at St Andrew's.

Nine-goal Gardner will complete a two-game ban while Ridgewell will serve a one-match suspension for his red card in last weekend's 2-1 reverse at at Newcastle.

Stuart Parnaby and David Murphy will be in contention to replace Ridgewell at left-back. Striker Nikola Zigic is still battling to overcome groin and hip problems and unlikely to be fit.

Fulham have doubts over Bobby Zamora and Simon Davies.

Davies has not trained since being kicked on the calf in Monday's 5-2 home defeat by Liverpool, while Zamora did not complete training today because of soreness in his groin.

Full-back Chris Baird looks like missing the last two games of the season after deciding not to contest the charge of using an abusive gesture towards referee Lee Mason in the Liverpool match.

Alex McLeish has challenged his Birmingham players to show "no fear" as they look for victory to secure their Barclays Premier League status.

Blues have had a season to remember having lifted the Carling Cup - their first major trophy for 48 years.

But McLeish is aware of the need to establish City as a top-flight club as they aim to clinch a third successive campaign in the Premier League.


He said: "It's in our own hands if we win so there's that motivation and that target for us.

"To get to this stage of the season, given the injury problems we've had since the Carling Cup final, I think the lads have done brilliantly.

"But they've just got to make that final push over the line on Sunday.

"We are looking for our boys to be rottweilers at the weekend and give us those performance levels we got against Bolton, Sunderland and, to a lesser degree, Wolves when we were down to 10 men."

He added: "The league has always been of paramount importance to us. The Carling Cup was fantastic from the point of view of the trophyless cupboard for 40-odd years.

"You can never take that away from us, so we're proud of that, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

"But the Premier League is the bread and butter and the stakes are extremely high.

"We just want to try and get that stability of staying in the league for three or four seasons like Stoke have done and go from strength to strength.

"The players have got to go and enjoy it, not fear it. The sun will still come up the next day whatever happens.

"We need them to go and show no fear and they have gone and done that exceptionally well.

"We've had a wee bit of travel sickness recently in terms of away performances but they've got to turn it on for the home crowd."

Fulham manager Mark Hughes believes his side's 5-2 thrashing by Liverpool on Monday is bad news for Birmingham.

A Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick and further goals from Dirk Kuyt - the Reds' third after just 16 minutes - and Luis Suarez stunned Hughes' men at Craven Cottage.

"That was a real shock to us - we didn't see that coming," commented Hughes. "But since the turn of the year we have been fantastic and that was an anomaly we must put behind us and learn from.

"In terms of motivating the players that performance has made it easier for the last two games."

Fulham, 10th in the Barclays Premier League, visit Birmingham and then finish the season at home to Arsenal next Sunday.

Hughes continued: "When you have a significant defeat you look at who did well and who didn't. That happens after every game, whether the result was positive or negative. I have a lot of options - there are not many missing through injury."

Bobby Zamora and Simon Davies have to clear up fitness doubts first, though.

"Bobby didn't complete training on Friday because he was suffering from soreness in his groin," said Hughes. "We pulled him out as a precaution and we're hopeful that will settle down.

"Simon got a kick on his calf against Liverpool and there was localised bleeding, so he hasn't trained since the match.

"Having worked him with the physiotherapists on Friday we're hopeful that as long as the area doesn't bleed he'll have a chance."

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