Portsmouth v Birmingham, Tue 9 Mar 2010

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Portsmouth will be without midfielders John Utaka and Hassan Yebda for the Premier League clash with Birmingham at Fratton Park.

Utaka has a tight groin following the FA Cup win over the Blues on Saturday, while Yebda is seeing a specialist about a persistent knee injury.

Aaron Mokoena is doubtful with a knee ligament problem and Kevin-Prince Boateng is still in Germany undergoing treatment on an ankle injury.

Defender Ricardo Rocha serves the second of a two-game ban after his red card against Burnley on February 27.

First-team coach Paul Groves has called on his side to keep up the pressure on their relegation rivals, despite a nine-point deduction hanging over the cash-strapped club.

Rock-bottom Pompey took a break from Premier League action on Saturday to beat Alex McLeish's side 2-0 and book their place in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley against Fulham or Tottenham.

Another victory over the Blues would on paper leave Avram Grant's men just two points from safety, but with the club almost certain to be hit with the points deduction for going into administration, hopes of survival could be swiftly dashed.

Groves is determined to keep fighting for the club's Premier League future - whether or not they lose the points.

He said: "We want to do well and until those nine points are taken away from us, we'll continue chasing the teams above and hopefully put some pressure on them.

"I think the players and staff believe we could get out of it if given the opportunity, but we'll have to wait and see.

"Until the points are taken away, we'll keep going as if we're on 19 points and striving to get a few more.

"We want to put pressure on the teams above and if we can do that, who knows? The nine-point deduction is something we don't have any control over."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is set to give a first start to January transfer window signing Michel.

McLeish confirmed Michael would be involved after indicating he will freshen up his side following City's 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Michel has only had the occasional run-out as a substitute since moving to Blues from Sporting Gijon.

McLeish has no fresh injury worries and has set Birmingham a target of a minimum of 51 points by the end of the season after effectively securing top-flight status by reaching the 40-point mark.

McLeish has kept faith with the same starting line-up during an impressive run of results which has carried Birmingham to the 40-point mark. But he feels the time is right to bring in fresh legs and minds to ensure there is no dramatic fade-out in the final two months of the campaign.

Michel, signed from Sporting Gijon in the winter window, will be given the opportunity against Avram Grant's team after previously having only played as a substitute.

McLeish said: "We don't have injuries, maybe a bit of tiredness, and it is understandable after such a long spell with the players playing week in, week out, training hard every day, playing all these games.

"Players can also get mentally tired and maybe it is now appropriate for me to utilise the squad. There have been a lot of guys kicking their heels.

"A lot of guys, quite rightly, haven't knocked on my door because they know how well the team has done and I've told them they just have to be patient.

"There is an opportunity to perhaps play one or two of the players who have been sitting on the bench."

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