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Three to watch for the clash at St. Andrews

A BIG game awaits the R’s on Saturday with Ian Holloway’s side still looking to pick up their first three points away from home this season.

With both sides currently struggling for form we take a look at three Birmingham City players to look out for this Saturday.

Maikel Kieftenbeld

Strengths:

  • Tackling
  • Work-rate
  • Energy

Perhaps Birmingham’s most important player, the Dutchman has been one of the few to maintain a high level of performance in what has so far been a disappointing campaign. Kieftenbeld was expected to make a move to Derby County in the last transfer market but the deal fell through and initially had to work hard to win his place back at Birmingham before starting the last ten matches. The powerful central midfielder likes to set the tone early for his side with tough tackling and lots of energy in the middle of the park.

Harlee Dean

Strengths:

  • Heading
  • Aggression
  • Commitment

Dean’s experience at the back could be vital for Birmingham – not just in this game but for the rest of the Blues’ season. Dean is only 26-years-old but was a regular for Brentford in the last three seasons and picked up their Player of the Year award last year. The 6' 3" centre half needs to start showing those committed and dominating performances for Steve Cotterill’s side. The west Midland’s outfit have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine games and with Birmingham having statistically the worse attack in the league this season they will know that keeping goals out will be crucial in terms of them climbing up the division.

Lukas Jutkiewicz

Strengths:

  • Heading
  • Hold-up play
  • First touch

Birmingham’s top goal-scorer last season with 11 strikes to his name and someone who found the net against the R’s last season. The big target man has so far cut a frustrated figure for Birmingham City as he’s mainly fed off scraps and therefore has just the one goal to his name in the 18 games he’s featured in. However, if Birmingham can start feeding him quality balls into the box and get midfield runners close to him then the Southampton graduate becomes a difficult opposition to face and can bully defences with his physical qualities.