Gianfranco Zola admits Birmingham set to be missing their two top scorers against Newcastle
Birmingham are set to face Newcastle without some key players, according to Gianfranco Zola.
Rafa Benitez is going to be missing his top two strikers in Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic and has a dilemma whether to risk third choice Daryl Murphy.
With Mitro and Gayle set to be missing for weeks, the United boss will be wary of risking the Irish international when he has just played two games in a row after so long on the sidelines and with the Championship match on Saturday against Rotherham in mind.
In Zola’s case, he is definitely without the injured Clayton Donaldson who is second top scorer this season with six goals.
However, the Birmingham boss says he is thinking about giving top scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz a rest as well, to protect him from injury as he has played so often due to the lack of other strike options, plus they have a ‘big game coming up’ on Saturday when they visit Blackburn.
Lukas Jutkiewicz is stop scorer with nine goals this season, including the one that produced this replay when equalising against Newcastle 10 days ago.
Birmingham have no wins in six under Gianfranco Zola and have sunk to nine points off the play-off positions. The Birmingham boss is suggesting he will be giving precedence to the Championship games, though whether that is because he thinks they still have a serious chance of reaching the play-offs, or just more chance of putting some wins together rather than in the FA Cup, is unclear.
The next top scorer after Jutkiewicz and Donaldson only has three goals.
New signing Craig Gardner, the former Sunderland player, is definitely missing, as he ineligible after signing following the meeting of the two teams in the third round match.
“It’s a tough place to go but I will make some changes because we also have a very important game on Saturday.
“I have to try to change some players, especially because we have one or two that have little issues physically and I want to preserve them.
“Michael Morrison has a groin problem which he has had for a month, so if we have an opportunity to give him a rest we will do that.
“The other one is Lukas Jutkiewicz who has been playing a lot – and because there is a big game coming up – and we don’t have much (attacking) cover at the moment, I’m considering giving him a rest as well.
“But still, as we did in the first game, we are going to put a strong team out on the pitch.”
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