Birmingham City midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld may well return to action when the Blues host arch-rivals Aston Villa at St Andrew’s in the second city derby on Sunday, and he needs to take up the mantle of stopping Jack Grealish.
Well, Garry Monk decided to leave the 28-year-old on the substitutes’ bench for the trip to Hull City last weekend – presumably to rest him and also to ensure he didn’t get suspended for the clash against Dean Smith’s side given his record when it comes to yellow cards.
The Dutchman has become a vital cog for Brum in the middle of the pitch and David Davis didn’t impress after standing in for him at the KCOM Stadium, being replaced in the 56th minute.
It will be interesting to see whether he keeps his spot in the XI after such a long injury lay-off or if Kieftenbeld simply replaces him, but the former Netherlands U21 international needs to step up to the plate against Grealish.
The best thing he can do is not give the impressive 23-year-old any space to work his magic in.
Man-marking the Villa talisman – who shone and scored a stunning volley on his return to first-team action after a three-month absence lasttime out – would be effective, and that should include letting him know that he is there early on with a crunching, but fair, tackle.
Of course, the problem with Kieftenbeld is that his disciplinary record isn’t the best, and while he needs to be in Grealish’s shadow throughout the 90 minutes, he also needs to make sure he doesn’t pick up an early booking that leaves him on tenterhooks, or a red card that leads to an early bath.