Birmingham Vs Wolves: Big Match preview

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Boss Alex McLeish welcomes Kevin Phillips back into the fold for Birmingham's Barclays Premier League clash against Wolves.

The veteran striker has missed the last two games with a groin injury but has returned to training and is likely to be on the bench against Mick McCarthy's side.

McLeish has named the same starting line-up for the last 11 league games and that is again likely to be the case this weekend, with Christian Benitez and Cameron Jerome leading the attack.

McLeish believes the failure to land a marquee signing in the January transfer window has at least gone some way to cooling expectation levels surrounding the club.

Having enjoyed a dream first half of the season some fans, although certainly not all, in the Second City have muttered talk of a possible European finish come May.

And with Blues constantly linked to big-name forwards such as Roman Pavlyuchenko, Kenwyne Jones and Ryan Babel last month, some were left disappointed that the club`s goal-shy forward line was not bolstered.

But McLeish, who pulled out all the stops in his attempts to sign a striker, said: "You know, let's not go quite so high so soon because if we brought in a big major signing then there would be an expectation that we would go into Europe.

"And I don't think we're quite ready for that yet. If we get there we'll take it, but the expectation levels put more pressure on everybody with the bigger the signing you make."

He added: "There were a number of names that we were linked with. We tried, we tried hard. In the end I felt I didn't have anybody who could really take us forward. There were complications in one or two other deals and it just didn't happen."

Wolves have Kevin Doyle, Matt Jarvis, Stephen Ward and Marcus Hahnemann available.

The quartet all missed the 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

Striker Doyle (calf and Achilles), winger Jarvis (calf) and left-back Ward (leg) were all injured while goalkeeper Hahnemann was rested.

Wolves also have midfielder Adlene Guedioura available for the short trip to St Andrew's.

Guedioura, who arrived on loan from Charleroi last month, returns to the squad after being ineligible for the FA Cup tie.

Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann has thrown down the gauntlet to his team-mates on the eve of the clash.

Wolves, who are without a Premier League victory since beating Burnley on December 20, badly need a win to boost their battle against relegation.

But getting that win at Birmingham promises to be a tough task.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have all failed to win at St Andrew's this season but Hahnemann thinks Wolves could be the team to break Birmingham's run.

Hahnemann, who returns to the side after being rested for the humiliating 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, said: "Birmingham are a fair number of games unbeaten at home.

"But the longer those things go the more it is a challenge for someone to break it. So why not us?

"They've been playing well but if we play as we can we've got a chance of being the team to end that streak."

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

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