Boost for Birmingham

Birmingham City will welcome back five key players for their English Premier League relegation battle against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish should be able to call upon defenders Roger Johnson, Martin Jiranek and Stephen Carr, midfielder Barry Ferguson and on-loan striker Obafemi Martins.

All five have trained in the past week and their return should provide the team with a boost after an FA Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Bolton Wanderers in their last match.

“We had a right few missing last week and I said at the time if they had played there could have been a danger of them incurring muscle injuries and being out for the next month or even longer,” McLeish said.

“It was good for them to get a regeneration of the batteries and also to get some much needed treatment.”

“Johnson, Ferguson, Carr, Jiranek, Martins all trained today and were declared fit by the medical staff.”

“(Nikola) Zigic, (Keith) Fahey, (Lee) Bowyer, (David) Bentley did some separate work with the physios so they are the doubts. It is good to get the experienced guys back.”

McLeish believes the availability of certain players could dictate whether Birmingham survive in the top flight.

“You need to persevere right to the very end but the experience could help as well, could be a factor, and we have that as well,” he said.

“It would be nice to get the other players back on track as well … It would be good to have everyone available in the run-in.”

McLeish does not expect Wigan to spring any surprises in regards to team selection or tactics at the DW Stadium.

“We’ve got a pretty good idea of what side we are going to face,” he said.

“(Wigan manager) Roberto (Martinez) will try and get his strongest team out.”

“We know he can change the system a bit but we know by and large how they are going to play and he will know the same about us.”

“There are no real secrets in the Premier League.”

While a victory over their fellow strugglers would be invaluable, McLeish insists the clash with Wigan is not a must-win game.

“There are a lot of big games this weekend and as a league we have come to the real business side of the season,” said McLeish.

“We know that winning this game would give us fantastic confidence for the run-in.”

“If we don’t get the result we are looking for, the league is not finished. There will still be plenty of points to be played for.”