For the third time in four seasons, Blues go into their last game of the season today with safety from relegation from the Championship not confirmed. Blues are just two points ahead of 22nd place Luton Town, who face a Blackburn Rovers team with nothing to play for.
Blues’ Championship status for next season is confirmed if Wigan Athletics points deduction for entering administration is upheld after appeal. If Wigan are deducted the 12 points it means they could only finish the campaign with a maximum of 49 points, one less than Blues.
Despite this Steve Spooners side will be looking to confirm their safety by staying out of the relegation zone and not by “resting on that (the Wigan deduction)” as was put by the caretaker coach. A point should be enough to ensure Blues do not drop into the relegation zone.
Blues are on their longest winless run since 1994, however Spooner is “determined” to take home maximum points when they face Derby County tonight, who can finish no higher than 10th .Derby have suffered from inconsistent form since the Championship restart and have lost their last four games. The Rams have also only kept one clean sheet on the road in the Championship this season, something that will boost Blues who have scored just two goals in their last six matches.
The Relegation Picture
18th: Huddersfield – 51 points
Goal Difference: -15
Opposition: Millwall (9th)
19th: Middlesbrough – 50 points
Goal Difference: -14
Opposition: Sheffield Wednesday (16th)
20th: Blues – 50 points
Goal Difference: – 19
Opposition: Derby County
21st Charlton – 48 points
Goal Difference: -11
Opposition: Leeds United (1st)
22nd Luton – 48 points
Goal Difference: -29
Opposition: Blackburn Rovers (10th)
Teams 23rd place and below cannot catch Blues, which is also the case for Wigan if they are deducted twelve points.
Jake Clarke Salter remains out (groin). Despite the announcement Jude Bellingham will move to Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, the 17-year-old is expected to feature.
A shoulder injury picked up against Leeds on Sunday has ruled out midfielder Tom Lawrence. Full back Andre Wisdom remains sidelined.
One To Watch
England’s record scorer has been in good form since his move from MLS side D.C. United. Playing in midfield, the 34-year-old has bagged five goals and 3 assists since arriving in January and was a big part of Derby’s playoff push.
Views from The Dugouts
Speaking ahead of the crucial game tonight Steve Spooner is glad that Blues still have their destiny in their own hands
“It is a positive amongst some not so many positives. It’s very much in our own hands and we’re going out there to try and make sure we see it through”
The caretaker head coach also suggested that Blues won’t just be aiming for a draw, which would secure the teams Championship status
“There are three points to play for and that is what we aim for. We’re going in there with what we’ve already been given – a clean sheet – and that’s what we’ve got to try and maintain throughout the game”.
Derby boss Phillip Cocu’s comments also suggested that his team will be up for the match, despite not being able to reach the playoff places
I am sure we will give a good performance. You’re never guaranteed about a win, but we will give our absolute best in the last game. We owe it to ourselves but also to our fans who are unable to come but to see the game on television.
Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC