Preview: Birmingham v Aston Villa

Points will be at a premium on Sunday when Birmingham host Birmingham v Aston VillaAston Villa at St Andrews in the Second City derby.

Gerard Houllier’s Aston Villa are languishing in the English Premier League relegation zone with just 21 points from as many games, although in their most recent match they enjoyed a 3-1 away win over Sheffield United on Saturday to book a spot in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Their league form, however, has been woeful in recent weeks and they have to go back to December 11 to find their last win.

That day’s 2-1 triumph over West Brom is their only victory from their past nine English Premier League fixtures.

Birmingham are in 15th place in the league table – just one point ahead of Villa – and suffered a 2-1 loss to bottom-placed West Ham in Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg.

In their most recent league game, Alex McLeish’s side enjoyed a 2-1 win over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, but that result was their first win in five league games.

McLeish has little news from the medical staff to concern him, although Scott Dann is likely to miss out after injuring a hamstring against West Ham and long-term casualty James McFadden is still unavailable.

Houllier has a few more concerns ahead of the encounter, with both Emile Heskey and Ashley Young missing through suspension and Luke Young yet to overcome a knee injury.

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