The weight of expectation will be on the shoulders of Birmingham City duo Che Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz to deliver when Brum welcome Aston Villa to St Andrew’s on Sunday, but centre-back pairing Michael Morrison and Harlee Dean have as big a role to play.
The Blues’ attacking pair have struck up a strong partnership and have 12 goals (all from Adams) and seven assists (all from Jutkiewicz) between them in the Championship since mid-December, helping spearhead an unlikely play-off bid.
All eyes will be on them to shine again for the visit of their arch-rivals this weekend, but Garry Monk’s defenders need to be at their best as well.
Morrison and Dean have been part of a backline that has conceded the same number of goals as leaders Norwich City, and two less than Midlands neighbours West Bromwich Albion, although they would have been disappointed to concede four in the reverse fixture at Villa Park in November.
While the Villans have the worst defensive record in the top half of the Championship, they propose a significant threat at the other end of the pitch with only the Canaries and the Baggies finding the net on more occasions.
Their strength was shown when they beat fellow promotion hopefuls Derby County 4-0 at home last weekend, and in Tammy Abraham they have arguably the best striker in the division – he has scored 21 goals in 29 league fixtures during the current campaign.
If Morrison and Dean can deal effectively with the Chelsea loanee it will help to stop their opponents in their tracks, and they could be their team’s derby heroes on the day.