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Birmingham City vs Queens Park Rangers – Prediction, Team News, Lineups

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High-flying If Queens Park Rangers win Friday night at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s Stadium, they will go back to the top of the Championship standings.

John Eustace’s Blues will aim to rebound from Saturday’s humiliating loss at Blackburn Rovers and keep pulling away from the relegation zone, where they were widely predicted to end the season.

Our Match Preview: Birmingham City vs Queens Park Rangers

Subpar finishing and a world-class performance from Blackburn goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski led to Birmingham’s second loss in nine games.

For neutrals watching at Ewood Park, it would have been tough to tell which team is striving for promotion and which is battling to shrug off their relegation tag. Blues dominated the Rovers for big portions of the game and felt short-changed after walking home empty-handed.

It’s been a long time since a Birmingham team commanded play against a top Championship squad, underscoring John Eustace’s impressive work in the Second City.

Despite surrendering two goals last time out, the Blues have the second-best defensive record in the league, allowing 15 in 16 matches, the same as Vincent Kompany’s top-ranked Burnley.

Birmingham has played the current top three teams in the Championship consecutively, and with Millwall visiting next Tuesday, Eustace’s men will need to be at their best to improve on their 15th-placed status.

QPR are a different squad from last season when injuries derailed their playoff hopes. Chris Willock is an excellent illustration of how Michael Beale’s Rangers can keep winning even when key players are out.

Willock scored a winner against promotion rivals Sheffield United in early October, but a hamstring injury sidelined him for four Championship matches.

In the four meetings since, Beale’s side has gained nine points, keeping their automatic promotion drive on pace and proving to the Championship they are a viable prospect for a first Premier League campaign since 2014-15.

Beale could have fast-tracked himself to the top tier of English football when Wolverhampton Wanderers requested to speak to him about their vacant position, but he turned down that offer and explained his reasoning openly, an act that only increased his rapidly-growing admiration in footballing circles.

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Our Team News: Birmingham City vs Queens Park Rangers

After just playing two minutes of senior football this season due to a hamstring injury, Birmingham City might add an experienced head to their matchday squad for Friday’s visit from QPR if defender George Friend is fit to play. A friend played a second complete match for the Under-21s on Monday.

Nico Gordon, another potential backline contributor who has been out since the end of last season with an undisclosed health condition, will join Friend in receiving youth-team experience to build up his fitness and hence will not be eligible to participate on Friday.

Long-term Blues absentees Marc Roberts (hamstring), Gary Gardner (calf), and Przemyslaw Placheta (shin) are not expected to return until after the mid-November World Cup break.

While QPR manager Beale would love to have Willock back for selection on Friday, he recognizes that he cannot take any chances with the player if he is not 100 percent.

Forward Tyler Roberts remains questionable after sitting out Rangers’ past two Championship games with an injury.

Despite the recent win against Wigan Athletic, Norwegian forward Stefan Johansen was pulled off at halftime with a leg injury and may miss his team’s trip to Birmingham on Saturday, marking the first time this season that he will miss a league game.

  • Birmingham City Possible Starting Lineup: Ruddy, Sanderson, Dean, Trusty, Colin, Bielek, Hannibal, Longelo, Bacuna, Hogan, Deeney
  • Queens Park Rangers Possible Starting Lineup: Dieng, Laird, Balogun, Clarke-Salter, Paal, Amos, Field, Iroegbunam, Willock, Chair, Dykes.

Our Prediction: Birmingham City 1-1 Queens Park Rangers

When it comes to this match, Queens Park Rangers will be the favorites, but everyone who follows the Championship closely knows that playing away from home against Birmingham is one of the most difficult challenges in the competition.

Because the Blues have had almost an entire week to prepare for the arrival of Beale’s men, they should be ready to compete on a level playing field with a quality away side and compel them to split the points on Friday night.

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