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Birmingham City 2 v 1 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 23rd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Olivier Ntcham looking to start the game against Birmingham City today
Saturday, 23rd Oct 2021 08:32 by Keith Haynes

We had news this morning that Flynn Downes is still carrying a knock from the West Brom game on Wednesday evening, but is determined to get himself fit for today’s game against Birmingham City. Tests yesterday concluded he isn’t one hundred per cent, but may improve with a further twenty four hours rest.

The big question is ‘ Can Russell Martin afford to take that risk ‘? We have been told he see’s Downes and Captain Matt Grimes as his first choices in midfield, and let’s be honest his selections each game reinforce this. It doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. Having been extremely protective of Michael Obafemi’s injury conditions it would be extremely foolish to go against the grain and play Downes today.

Especially when he has a fit Olivier Ntcham breathing down his neck saying ‘Play me’ Ntcham’s performance on Wednesday evening displayed a strong and industrious player back to fitness and raring to go. In fact someone Martin needs in that position. Especially now that Jay Fulton, it seems has become the forgotten man.

It is our expectation that Russell Martin, bearing in mind his respect for his sports science and medical team, will keep Downes out of the starting eleven today and bring in Ntcham. That should be the only change we see as the swans have next week off, with no midweek games, so recovery time after three games in the past six days is vital. And that’s another reason why Ntcham should start today, he too comes with injury issues but with six recovery and training days ahead for the players after today it’s a no brainer to include the Frenchman. If he does pull up again as he did at Fulham, that forgotten man Fulton we expect to be named on the bench as back up. Not a bad replacement, albeit his first team opportunity this season has been very rare.


Jay Fulton will be included on the bench today as back up for Olivier Ntcham

Ben Cabango is suffering slightly from a knock from Wednesday as well, and although Martin will want him to start with Ryan Bennett, Rhys Williams did get some minutes in midweek, so that’s another balancing act for today’s team selection. Looking at the reports from the midlands on this game it seems that the blues are very wary of coming up against one of the divisions ‘form sides’ today. A lot of emphasis is being placed on what the swans have, and how the blues counteract that threat, as opposed to concentrating on their own positives. Personally I don’t rate Lee Bowyer that much as a manager, and wouldn’t even mutter his name in the same sentence as Russell Martin, but I have to today.

For Birmingham City Maxime Colin will miss out due to an Achilles injury while Jeremie Bela remains sidelined with an ankle issue.sanchez too may well still not be ready for a first team start. Bowyer seemed very down in the loss of Colin “Max is struggling, he is going to have to see a specialist. It is a massive blow. Max is one of them players that is low maintenance, high output. You don't even know he is around the place until he steps onto the pitch and then you just see him stand out. He is a great pro and has been playing through pain for a while now. But it comes to a point where this is going to affect him and the team. Ivan Sanchez needs time. He has been out for five or six weeks. He got 45 minutes under his belt on the weekend, but he needs more minutes before we re-introduce him into the First Team.”


Birmingham City drew 0-0 at Huddersfield in midweek

Recent performances haven’t been great against the blues but we all know that you are only as good as your last game. The swans are still riding that crest of a wave with Russell Martin stating yesterday “I’ll never be someone who changes every week. We as a group of staff really believe in something, we trust it and put a lot of work into it, The players are the same. The more evidence they have on the pitch of it being successful the better. Too many people want to be just involved in the outcome but don’t understand how much work you have to put in to get there. I said when we came in, we’re going to try and build something we build in over a long period of time. But it’s only two games, and we’re not getting carried away.”

With a big travelling support following the side to the midlands today, we wish them all a safe and memorable journey, and of course we all hope the swans fly even higher to end a very successful week of football.

How are the swans performing for you overall this season ? Let us know in the comments section or on our football forum.


Photographs licensed from Reuters



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