Preston North End manager Simon Grayson is expecting a reaction from his side as they face a team who were one of the best that have visited Deepdale in 2016/17.
And despite having seen them not at their best, when he made the trip down the M6 to St Andrews last midweek, the gaffer knows that what he saw wasn’t a true reflection of his team’s opponents on Tuesday night.
“I went to Birmingham last week against Leeds and in the first half they weren’t very good and Gary will probably be the first to agree with me on that!” Said the PNE boss. “They played better in the second half and they have had a fantastic season.
“Gary got a reaction from them on Saturday for a big game against Burnley and they should have got something out of the game.
“They have had a great season and are going to just fall short of the Play-Offs, a bit like ourselves, so we are in for a tough game.
“They gave us one of the toughest games we have had at Deepdale this season. They have pace; they counter-attacked against us and they moved the ball quickly, so we know we have a tough game and we need a reaction from Saturday’s game ourselves.
“We are looking forward to it; it is another tough game, but we want to finish the season strongly in these last four games.”
The Lilywhites’ chief has made it clear over the past few weeks that he wants a strong end to the campaign and he was again keen to stress that, but is well aware of what his side are up against.
“We want to go above them and I don’t want the team to end up finishing 15th or 16th, or that region, because we don’t deserve to finish in that area of the table,” he continued. “We deserve to finish in around eighth, ninth or tenth, because of performance have warranted that.
“We have to make sure we back to winning ways and get performances to make sure we achieve that.
“The onus is always on the home team to take the game to the opposition. It has suited them to play away from home, but they have threats. They have plenty of experience and some height in Donaldson and Lafferty, so they are team that mix it up.
“They don’t have a set style of playing; they do what is required. They will put balls in the box, they have Cotterill out wide, but they use the pace of the wide players as well.
“It is a tough test for us at a good venue and we have to make sure we compete, win the battles and use the ball better.
“They are a big football club and Gary turned things round magnificently last year; has got the home form going and they won’t have been out of the top ten all season this year, so it shows what a tough game we have got.”