Birmingham and Huddersfield lock horns in hunt for first win

Linfield braced for Zurich test

Birmingham City aim to kick on from their goalless draw at Luton Town on the Championship’s opening weekend in Friday night’s visit of Huddersfield Town, while the Terriers look to make amends for a flat defeat in the curtain-raiser against Burnley (Birmingham City 7/5, draw 11/5, Huddersfield 11/5 – Match Betting).

Blues’ draw in Bedfordshire against a side who pushed Huddersfield all the way in last term’s playoff semi-final marks a positive start to boss John Eustace’s time at the St Andrews helm.

The former Coventry City and Watford midfielder oversaw a solid defensive performance at Kenilworth Road and will hope that new arrivals John Ruddy, brought in to keep goal from Wolves, and talented young centre-back Dion Sanderson – a loan man, also from Molineux – will help build a solid foundation for the coming year (Birmingham 14/1 – Top 6 Finish).

Huddersfield, who lost a tight playoff final at Wembley in May against Nottingham Forest, looked a shadow of their former selves last Friday, going down 0-1 at home to Vincent Kompany’s Clarets in an encounter that saw them fail to register a shot on target.

The West Yorkshire side have since lost the dynamic pairing of left-back Harry Toffolo and central midfielder Lewis O’Brien to the City Ground outfit, with the shock departure of respected head coach Carlos Corberan – just weeks before the first kick of a ball – leaving incoming boss Danny Schofield with much work on his hands (Huddersfield 4/1 – Relegation).

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However, history does favour Huddersfield Town, who are unbeaten in three match-ups with Friday’s opponents. The Terriers ran out 0-2 winners last time out in the Midlands, though both scorers in February’s match – O’Brien and Levi Colwill, now on loan at Brighton from Chelsea – have since departed.

Schofield concedes his side were second best against the Clarets and has hinted at changes in a bid to guide them through what he expects to be a tough game.

“After reviewing the Burnley game, it was evident that there was plenty to improve on in the first half, which we changed tactically at half-time,” he said.

“Potentially we will see more of the new faces on Friday, but we have assessed Birmingham and will pick the best team to face them.

“It won’t be easy, we saw how hard they were to beat against Luton, but we’ll be prepared and ready for the challenge.”

For Birmingham City, Scott Hogan and Troy Deeney are expected to pair up in attack, meaning no place for Lukas Jutkiewicz against the club he briefly represented a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the visitors are unable to call on Matty Pearson and David Kasumu, who are kept out by respective foot and hamstring injuries.

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Author: Lucille White