Trophy celebrations have been replaced by sober reality at relegation-threatened Birmingham City, but boss Alex McLeish remains optimistic.
City slumped into the English Premier League relegation zone after defeat to local rivals West Brom on Saturday, contrasting the euphoria that greeted the upset 2-1 win in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal on February 27.
McLeish remains upbeat and knows that positive results from the two games they have in hand over their fellow strugglers will move them to safety, starting with a win against Everton on Wednesday.
“We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves,” he said.
“We’ve got to get on with it. We have got to grind out points and results. We have got to go to Everton and be positive and look to take something, and that’s the challenge between now and the end of the season; picking up points where people are looking at it and saying we’ve probably got one of the hardest run-ins and are not expecting us to do that.”
Everton lie tenth and have struggled this season, sitting just six points about the relegation zone.
McLeish is expecting a tough game against David Moyes’ team.
He said: “Everton are a good side. We know the quality of them. It has been a bit up and down for David but they have great quality, even with (Tim) Cahill and (Marouane) Fellaini (missing), they showed great character at the weekend to get the result (a 2-1 win at Newcastle United on Saturday).”
“David Moyes has had a couple of injury problems to key players and then they go and get a great result at Newcastle after the FA Cup defeat.”
“Everton have been a bit up and down this season but we know the quality of them.”
Against West Brom, Birmingham looked poor in midfield without Barry Ferguson and Craig Gardner.
Ferguson will definitely miss the trip due to a rib injury he sustained when he collided with Arsenal’s Samir Nasri in the Carling Cup final, with Gardner also likely to again be absent with a continuing hip complaint.
But Roger Johnson has recovered from his calf injury and Martin Jiranek’s thigh problem has cleared up.
Serbian striker Nikola Zigic could make an appearance from the bench after returning to training on Tuesday, but will be assessed before the game.