Birmingham City breakdown: Fans protests, Hernandez threat and where Bristol City can exploit Blues

We spoke to Ben Ramsdale, the football reporter for BirminghamWorld to get the background on the Robins’ opponents at Ashton Gate

<p>Birmingham City were comfortable winners when the two sides last met in November. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)</p>

Birmingham City were comfortable winners when the two sides last met in November. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Birmingham City are the opponents of Bristol City as they make the trip to Ashton Gate Stadium in the last stretch of fixtures in the Sky Bet Championship.

Lee Bowyer, a former player at St Andrew’s is at the helm and after what looked like an early season play-off push, the Midlands club are in transition.

They are a club which has some similarities to City, unable to do much in the transfer market as the club tries to manoeuvre there way through Financial Fair Play restrictions, as well as deal with the financial implications of playing without supporters for the past two years.

Birmingham though are in a worse state as they are three places below the Robins in 20th and have had a number of off-the-field issues which has seen fans protest.

To get the inside track of what to expect from Birmingham City, we spoke to Ben Ramsdale, responsible for the coverage of Midlands clubs like Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, to let us know what the mood is like in their camp.

Key player?

At the minute it’s hard to look further than Onel Hernandez - a certified baller.

Hernandez joined on loan from Norwich City in January and he’s been superb since his arrival. He has a turn of pace that you simply can’t teach and I’ve already seen his willingness to run at players scare the life out of numerous defenders so far.

It’s a shame for him that the team around him have been dropping like flies because it would be intriguing to see him with a full fit squad around him.

Strengths?

The main strength has to come from those creative players behind the strikers. At the minute that job is down to two January arrivals, the previously mentioned Hernandez and Juninho Bacuna who was added on a permanent from Rangers.

Both have been superb since coming in and are the type of players you can ill afford to give time on the ball to.

Weaknesses?

If you can call injuries a weakness it has certainly been one this year. The lack of strength in depth has really hurt Blues.

As of last time out versus Huddersfield Town, they finished the game with two wingers playing at full-back, a left-back playing at centre-back and a central midfielder filling in at centre-back.

Whilst they are expected to have a couple of names back this weekend, the back-line is still threadbare and should see no change at full-back. With that said, like Huddersfield, Bristol will be looking to exploit the Blues defence with their wide players.

Team news?

As touched on above, it’s been a bit of a shambolic season as a whole in terms of injuries for Blues but there is some optimism for Saturday’s game.

Marc Roberts has trained all week and is expected to come straight back into the team at centre-back.

Both Lyle Taylor and Scott Hogan will be assessed to see if they can be involved in some way after missing the last few.

Tahith Chong returned after a long-lay off last time out and after more minutes with the u23s could be pushing for a start whilst Taylor Richards will again be involved.

Maxime Colin, George Friend, Troy Deeney and Teden Mengi remain out.

Why have there been tennis ball protests at St Andrews?

Tennis ball protests aren’t the only protests that have been going on.

We’ve had ‘faceless masks’ being worn, whistles being blown non-stop during a game and fans gathering in front of the director’s box mid-game.

Without turning this into a dissertation because it well could be, it simply all boils down to wanting the owners out after plenty of wrong-doings over the years.

The owners have promised more clarity recently and the protests have cooled but the stance hasn’t really changed from the fanbase.