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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Birmingham’s trip to the depleted Brewers may make for a dull affair

Albion set for tough campaign

Burton boss Nigel Clough
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Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football 7.45pm Friday

Two teams who managed no shots on target between them in their last fixtures do battle and it may not be pretty when Birmingham head to Burton in the Sky Bet Championship.

Maybe bookmakers should bet on over/under 2.5 shots on target never mind 2.5 goals. With both teams lacking an attacking punch this looks set to be a tight match, something which is highlighted by the odds.

Finding worthwhile wagers is as difficult as picking a winner and a bet on at least one team not scoring could be the best punt.

Burton performed excellently to stay up last season as Nigel Clough's men battled against teams with much bigger budgets to finish 20th. However, Albion were only one point above the drop zone and life could be even tougher this time around.

The early fixture list has not been kind with trips to relegated Middlesbrough and Hull as well as a home opener against fast-starting Cardiff, but they have suffered three straight defeats, picking up red cards in both away matches to make things even more difficult.

Those red cards to Jackson Irvine (after 38 minutes at Boro) and Hope Akpan (after 78 minutes at Hull) will have impacted on Burton's performances but having two shots on target in 270 minutes suggests it will be a difficult campaign for Albion.

From those statistics they have done well to score a goal - Irvine equalised at Hull before his dismissal - although it is clear the absence of record signing Liam Boyce is a blow.

Boyce was supposed to be their leading hitman having won the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Golden Boot last season but was ruled out for the season just before the campaign started.  

It has left Clough searching for loan deals with Cauley Woodrow turning down the opportunity to return to the Pirelli from Fulham. If Birmingham keep Irvine quiet it is difficult to see where the hosts' attacking threat will come from.

However, Birmingham themselves were shot-shy in Tuesday's dire goalless stalemate with Bolton that saw the promoted visitors shade a mainly dismal encounter.

Harry Redknapp has spent the summer calling for reinforcements but he and the club have mainly been left frustrated. Isaac Vassell arrived earlier this week from Luton and is a speedster with potential, although it appears as if the experienced manager was promised far more than has been delivered on the signings front.

Last season's top goalscorer, Lukas Jutkiewicz, got 45 minutes into his legs on Tuesday but is not 100 per cent fit and it may that be City will not be seen at their best until after the international break.

Birmingham, though, have a strong defence with wantaway Ryan Shotton not allowed to depart until replacements have been signed, while Marc Roberts and Michael Morrison are other options in front of top goalkeeper David Stockdale.

One or both teams not to score
1pt 20-23 BoyleSports

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Team news
John Mousinho and Liam Boyce are injured, while Stephen Warnock is rated "very doubtful" and Ben Turner is suspended. Hope Akpan is banned, but Jackson Irvine returns from suspension.

Michael Morrison is set to play with a protective mask, while David Davis and Chikh Ndoye should also be available. Che Adams and Cheick Keita are out. 

Key stat
Birmingham have won two of their last 16 away matches.

Birmingham were shot-shy in Tuesday's dire goalless stalemate with Bolton
E.W. Terms
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