Stephen Carr will face a late test on a thigh injury picked up in midweek. Jack Butland is back from England duty to make his first start for Blues. Has anyone ever played for their country before their club before?
For Charlton veteran midfielder Andy Hughes is recovering from Achilles surgery while young goalkeeper Nick Pope and defender Yado Mambo are out with knee injuries.
The last meeting was a 0-0 draw at The Valley in April 2009. Blues were promoted that season and Charlton relegated so they have been in different divisions ever since.
As this is the first game of the season the only form to go on is the midweek Capital One Cup matches. Blues got over a sluggish start to beat Barnet 5-1 while Charlton drew 1-1 with Leyton Orient and were knocked out on penalties.
Before we start looking forward let’s go back a couple of months to the beginning of June. Do you remember the reaction following the departure of Chris Hughton and the sale of Jordon Mutch to Cardiff? It was like the end of the world. Our popular manager had gone to a similar sized club, our young talent was being sold off and we were still under a transfer ban. It all looked a bit bleak to be honest. The reaction on forums and social media while being a bit over the top (As it usually is) was not showing the Birmingham City faithful to be happy bunnies.
Since then a lot has changed for the better. We’ve got a new young manager, the ban has been lifted and Mutch has yet to be followed out the door by anyone else. Most importantly though have been the exciting additions to the squad. Lovenkrands, Ambrose, and Morrison bring goals while Hayden Mullins adds experience. I’m still a little worried about Morrison but he has started well. The key thing for me will be hanging on to Curtis Davies and I won’t relax on that issue until the window closes. Nikola Zigic is still with us as well although the rumours of him going to Real Mallorca have surfaced again. If we get an offer we’ll have to sell him for financial reasons. Pre-season has been good although we’ll have to see if we can still score five when not playing League Two opposition.
Tomorrow’s opponents Charlton did really well in League One last season and were comfortably promoted ahead of the two strong Sheffield sides. They have not added much to their squad over the summer so may find it more difficult to do the double promotion that Southampton and Norwich have achieved in recent years. Promoted sides often start the season well though so it may not be the best time to be playing them and I expect a tough game. How well we do this season will depend more on our away form as at St Andrews we have always been consistent and I don’t expect us to lose tomorrow. I’m most interested in seeing what team is put out and particularly the formation we play. With most of our acquisitions being in midfield I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Marlon King supported by Lovenkrands, Morrison and Burke would be tasty.
As with any season the first game brings lots of questions. Will anything have changed at St Andrews in the summer? Will there be new walk on music? What will people sing now the Hughton and McLeish songs are no longer available to us? Will the new atmosphere group be noticeable? Will Beau Brummie have dumped Belle (Or vice versa)? Will there be new pies?
Only one more day go until we can find out.
My Prediction Blues 2 Charlton 1
C’mon you Blue Boys!