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Preview: Blues v Preston North End

Their stats are very good, when you see them playing, they play with a lot of confidence, we need to make sure we can manage the game, stick to our plans and try to go with our football.

Pep Clotet.

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's  Sky Bet Championship fixture against PNE at the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Pep Clotet's reflections on Blues' win at Charlton last time out...
"I think it was a good step forward for us because we managed to be ourselves away from home and to make sure we were solid defensively, produce offensively and keep control of the game.
The attitude of the players was very good, the commitment to the Club was very good. It was a very good performance away from home. There are a lot of things we can do better, but the points were there for us, we turned ourselves into a team that can have good games away from home, coming from bad games. It was very positive for our confidence."

Pep Clotet on the importance of Blues preserving their home record in which they are unbeaten in their last seven home league games...
"Obviously, every home team wants that, but I think we need a fantastic St. Andrew’s on Saturday because it’s a very tough side. I only speak game by game and that mentality into the team, we are facing very tough opposition who has started the league very strong. Their stats are very good, when you see them playing, they play with a lot of confidence, we need to make sure we can manage the game, stick to our plans and try to go with our football, and we need a St. Andrew’s fully behind the Birmingham players."

Pep Clotet on what he is expecting from Preston...
"A very tough game, we can see from the numbers it is a stronger side at home than away, I think it only takes one game to be a good side away. I think they are a very solid team, a team that has had the same management for three years, it is very stable, very solid, everyone knows how they play and operate. That gives them a lot of solidity. Defensively they work very well, I am expecting a Preston who will press us high, play with a lot of intensity and with the ball who will play forward, try to connect and create chances based on speed and tempo, so it’s going to be a very difficult game."

Preston Manager Alex Neil's comments ahead of the game...
“If you can adapt and be successful in terms of adapting to the opposition, you will have the opportunity to pick up points. Their (Blues') games that they have won have been very tight, with one goal in them - apart from Barnsley which they won 2-0 – so it will be a tough game. We know exactly what to expect, it is just whether we can cope with it - physically can we stand up to the challenge and when we have the ball, can we use it. They have strengthened their squad and have adapted well. They have a coach who worked closely with Garry last year. There isn’t a massive difference in what they are trying to do. They tried to go with a back three at the beginning of the season, but they have not veered away from that, so it will be an interesting match and a different test for us. We know it is a tough place to go, and always have been, so this is a difficult game for us, but we have just got to make sure the form we have shown on the road in terms of performances is turned into points.”

Blues team news...
Jonathan Grounds, Cheick Keita and Agustin Medina have resumed training after recovering from their respective injuries. Fran Villalba has recovered from the slight groin strain that saw him miss last weekend's trip to Charlton. Jefferson Montero (thigh) and Maikel Kieftenbeld (knee) remain sidelined.

Preston team news...
Tom Clarke (knee) and Louis Moult (knee) are unavailable. David Nugent has recovered from a calf problem

Last five meetings between Blues and Preston ...
Championship 16 Mar 2019 Preston 1 Blues 0
Championship 01 Dec 2018 Blues 3 Preston 0
Championship 20 Jan 2018 Preston 1 Blues 1
Championship 16 Sep 2017 Blues 1 Preston 3
Championship 14 Feb 2017 Preston 2 Blues 1

Total meetings between Blues and Preston ...
Blues wins: 35
Draws: 23
Preston wins: 37

Line-ups last league game...
Charlton Athletic v Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Dean, Roberts, Davis, Crowley (Gary Gardner 87), Sunjic, Bellingham (Gimenez 72), Mrabti, (Maghoma 67), Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Stockdale, Harding, Bailey, Clarke-Salter.

Preston (4-2-3-1) v Brentford: Raya, Henry, Nørgaard, Canós, Jensen (Dasilva, 73), Benrahma, Watkins, Jansson (C), Mbeumo (Mokotjo, 65), Dalsgaard, Jeanvier.
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Pinnock, Valencia, Zamburek.

BluesTV...
BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get exclusive audio commentary. Match commentary will be provided by Kevan Broadhurst and Jonathan Bell, with Dele Adebola and Dale Moon in the matchday studio Please click here to access BluesTV.

Match officials...
Stephen Martin will take charge of the game. So far this season the Staffordshire-based official has refereed six games where he has produced a total of 14 yellow cards, but no reds. The last Blues game he refereed was our 1-1 Championship home draw against Wigan Athletic in April. Two players were booked in that match; including Marc Roberts for Blues. In total Mr Martin has taken charge of 13 Blues games, three of which we have won, five we have drawn and five we have lost. The last Preston game he took charge of was their 1-0 Championship away defeat at Millwall in August. Five players were booked in that fixture; including Andrew Hughes, Alan Browne and Jayden Stockley for Preston. He has refereed 14 Preston games in total - 10 of which they have won, two they have drawn and two they have lost Mr Martin will be assisted on Saturday by Sam Lewis and Mark Jones, with Daniel Leach acting as the fourth official.

Tickets...
This is a grade b fixture and tickets are on general sale. For prices and purchasing details click here.

Supporter message...
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch. Any person found to be encroaching on the pitch will automatically be served with a banning order - regardless of the circumstances. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.

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