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Preview: Blues v Millwall

It’s important we impose our tempo, don’t take more touches than are necessary, control the areas where we are risking with the ball, don’t allow them to build counter-attacks.

Pep Clotet.

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture between Blues and Millwall at the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Pep Clotet's thoughts following on from the hard fought 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday...
"Positive. We wanted to become more solid away from home. We have done a lot of steps forward with our football, but we had to make sure we were more competitive and consistent and start getting points in and I think that was very important for team without sacrificing our style and our identity. That’s what we tried to do at Huddersfield and Sheffield. They are both tough places to go to away and we managed to get two points out of places which are always very difficult in the Championship to go there and win. We started preparing for Saturday’s game straight after the game, and we want to make sure that we are very competitive, that we have our identity in front of our fans and together with our fans we get the three points on Saturday which would make those two points very good."

Pep Clotet asked if good individual displays from the likes of Jake Clark-salter and Alvaro Gimenez had given him a selection problem for Saturday...
"Yes, but it is a very good problem to have and one you welcome. I think now there’s a very healthy competition in the squad. Everyone understands the project we are in, and everyone has brought into the Club’s ideas and everybody is enjoying the fact that the fans are backing us. Having that competition means we have options. Sometimes the options will work for us like they did at Huddersfield and sometimes it doesn’t work that well, but everyone can clearly see what we are trying to do. When it comes to selection you pick a team based on their performances and the work and what they can give and add to the team. Knowing that there are a lot of games in one week some of the decisions have been made to make sure that we keep a good level and that we have a healthy rotation in some areas."

Pep Clotet on what he thought was Millwall’s main threat...
"Against Swansea they applied a high press all over the park and a man-marking system, things I haven’t seen Millwall do before. And they have been floating on different systems of play for the last two games. I think it is a team that works very hard, they want to put immediate pressure on whoever has the ball. They want you to have that extra touch that will help them try to anticipate. They are very strong on the break and try to play direct, through the wide areas and attack the box mostly through crosses. It’s important we impose our tempo, don’t take more touches than are necessary, control the areas where we are risking with the ball, don’t allow them to build counter-attacks. And make sure that when we are attacking, we have the right balance to be sorted for a counter-attack and try to avoid the game opening up too much."

Pep Clotet on the importance of defending set-pieces against The Lions, particularly with former Blues loanee Connor Mahoney in the Millwall side...
"Connor has a very good delivery, we used it last season a lot. Juke (Lukas Jutkiewicz) as well will help us massively because he is a very strong asset when it comes to defending set-plays. And it’s one of the weapons of Millwall, really one of their biggest weapons and obviously we need to be focused. But I don’t want to turn into a negative because I want to focus on the strengths we have against them and force Millwall into a game where they are not comfortable. But it is always in the back of our mind that we will have to defend those set-pieces."

Pep Clotet on the importance of the home support to his players...
"The players did something very difficult this week, to get a couple of results away from home on the trot. Now after two days of preparation we are facing a side whose last game away was at Swansea when they had a brilliant result and a brilliant performance. They will be very, very difficult. This Saturday we need to fill St. Andrew’s, feel all the fans are backing the players and helping us because it’s going to be very tough, it’s going to be one of those games anything can happen from the beginning to the end. We have got to make sure all those margins are on our side. Those margins come on our side at St. Andrew’s because the players do feel the warmth from our fans, they do feel the fans trust them and believe in them whatever happens in the game."

Millwall Manager Gary Rowett's comments ahead of the game...
“It is always a tough place to go and away teams don’t relish it, because they know it is a great atmosphere. Birmingham have changed their style and will be a slightly different proposition perhaps to the last few seasons. But I’m someone who has managed there and got a good idea of how it all works. We’ve had quite good results when we’ve gone back as well. But I don’t think that dictates how the game is going to pan out. We’ve got to go there off the back of not a great performance (The Lions' 2-2 draw against Wigan) although it was a battling one, full of character. We’ve got to go and play a lot better to get any result.”

Blues team news...
Captain Harlee Dean is available to play following the completion of his three-match suspension. Lukas Jutkiewicz could return to the starting line-up after being used as a late substitute during Wednesday's game at Sheffield Wednesday. Gary Gardner is edging closer to a return after his knee injury. Maikel Kieftenbeld (knee) remains sidelined.

Millwall team news...
Jason McCarthy, Shane Ferguson, Frank Fielding and Ryan Leonard are expected to miss out through injuries.

Last five meetings between Blues and Millwall...
Championship 13 Mar 2019 Blues 0 Millwall 2
Championship 28 Nov 2018 Millwall 0 Blues 2
Championship 17 Feb 2018 Blues 0 Millwall 1
Championship 21 Oct 2017 Millwall 2 Blues 0
Championship 10 Feb 2015 Blues 0 Millwall 1

Total meetings between Blues and Millwall...
Blues wins: 22
Draws: 12
Millwall wins: 13

Form guide last five games...
Blues: WLLDD
Millwall: WLWWD

Line-ups last league game...
Sheffield Wednesday v Blues (4-2-3-1): Trueman, Pedersen, Roberts, Colin, Crowley, Bela (Montero, 70), Clarke-Salter, Villalba, Bellingham (Davis, 82), Gimenez (Jutkiewicz, 66), Sunjic.
Subs (not used): Camp, Harding, McEachran, Bailey.

Millwall (4-4-1-1) v Wigan: Bialkowski, M Wallace, Hutchinson, Cooper, Williams, J Wallace, Thompson (Skalak 79), Bradshaw (O'Brien 86), Romeo, Molumby, Mahoney (Smith 46).
Subs (not used): Steele, Pearce, Brown, Bodvarsson.

BluesTV...
BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get exclusive audio commentary. Commentary will be provided by Jonathan Bell. For more details about BluesTV, click here.

Match officials...
Andy Woolmer will take charge of Saturday's game. So far this season the Northamptonshire-based official has refereed 17 games, where he has produced a total of 41 yellow cards, one red, and awarded four penalties. The last Blues game he refereed was our Sky Bet Championship away fixture against Swansea City in August. Blues lost that match 3-0 and there were six players cautioned in total, including Kristian Pedersen, Jude Bellingham, Ivan Sunjic and David Davis for the visitors. He has refereed nine Blues game to date, one of which we have won, three we have drawn and five we have lost. The last Millwall game he refereed was their Sky Bet Championship away fixture at Wigan Athletic in May 2019. Millwall lost that match 1-0 and no players from either side were cautioned. He has refereed 20 Millwall games to date, with The Lions winning eight of them, drawing six and losing six. Mr Woolmer will be assisted on Saturday by Matt Foley and Jonathan Hunt, with James Oldham acting as the fourth official.

Tickets...
This is a grade b fixture and tickets are on general sale. Click here for prices and purchasing details.

Supporter message…
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch. Any person found to be encroaching on the pitch will automatically be served with a banning order - regardless of the circumstances. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.

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