Brum boss' warning to Blues

ALEX McLeish has warned Ipswich that his bruised Birmingham City side wants to get their automatic promotion bid back on the rails when they come to Portman Road on Boxing Day.

Derek Davis

ALEX McLeish has warned Ipswich that his bruised Birmingham City side wants to get their automatic promotion bid back on the rails when they come to Portman Road on Boxing Day.

City have won just twice in five games since beating Ipswich last month and back-to-back defeats by Preston and Reading have seen then slip to third after Steve Coppell's Royals leap-frogged them after the 3-1 win on Saturday.

That could mean City being on the crest of a slump and looking to make Town, who they beat 2-1, feel the backlash.

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Birmingham manager McLeish said: “We've got to get into gear and Ipswich is the next target.

“They say that titles can be won at lost at this time of year and we've got to get back on track.

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“But certainly, the boys in that dressing room, they have done well in amassed the 47 points, they have showed the character, showed the spirit. And they are hurting.

“We lost to a team who are going to be up there, and I believe we are going to be up there fighting with them to get back to the Premier League too.”

“Of course it would have been nice going into the Boxing Day encounter with Ipswich with a victory.

“But it never happened, and you have to keep a sense of reality about the whole thing.

“That result has to be put to the back of our minds now and we have to move forward with it and get better at certain things, like set-pieces for instance, where we've conceded a few goals this season.

''That's not acceptable, there's been too many.”

But McLeish refused to write off his team and said: “When we were six points ahead of Reading, I never said it was between two teams then, why should it be now?”

“People get carried away with the point's gap. It's only two that separates us. If Reading draw and we win, we're back neck-and-neck.

“Wolves were ahead of us before the weekend because they'd won three more games than us and we had drawn the three.

“It can be easily overcome. There is a tendency to over-exaggerate the points difference. When it's three for a win, it's nothing.”

McLeish continued: “Of course the defeat was a blow, and I don't take them easily. Neither do the players.

“I'm disappointed we haven't added to 47 points. That was kind of acceptable on the 23-game margin. Now we're into the 24, 25 and it's still 47.

McLeish and his coaches have to generate more goal punch from the team as well, another area of concern.

He admitted: “It's a fantastic tally Kevin Phillips has got for us so far, 11, he's a superb finisher as we saw again on Saturday.

“But we need goals from other areas of the team. The other strikers and the midfield.

“We need to start getting in among the goals. We haven't really done that this season and you can't keep relying on the defence to keep them out.

“I don't care who scores, even if we have got contributors smashing defenders about and keeping things alive for us in the last third, then other players will score.”

City are looking to boost their squad in January by signing trialists Jordi Lopez, the ex Real Madrid and Seville midfielder and Keith Fahey from Irish champions St Patrick's Athletic.

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