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HUGHTON'S NOTES

Posted on 9 January 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton gives his regular assessment of our forthcoming opponents - first up over the festive period, Birmingham City on Boxing Day...

Chris Hughton gives his regular assessment of our forthcoming opponents - first up over the festive period, Birmingham City on Boxing Day...

I watched Birmingham’s game against Manchester United in midweek and thought the first half was fairly even. Saha’s goal at the start of the second half was no doubt a blow, that saw them drop a little and they then conceded two goals in a short space of time. Until then you could see what they are all about.

They were very competitive - always have been - with the threat of Emile Heskey and on his day, he’s the best around of that type of player.

There is always the possibility that they could come to White Hart Lane, pack the midfield and go 4-5-1 but they are generally a 4-4-2 side and it then depends on how they deploy David Dunn.

He’s a very flexible player who can play on either flank. He’s played predominantly on the left but he can also play off the front. If he does that, sometimes it will mean five in midfield or he’ll drop a little deeper.

They have a big presence with Heskey up front and even though their fortunes haven’t been the best they certainly have enough quality in the side

They look to work in wide areas and have the ability of the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Julian Gray and Stan Lazaridis to call on.

There are a couple of familiar faces as well  Jamie Clapham was here as a youngster and it’s always nice to see Stephen Clemence, a big favourite in his time here. Obviously I know Kenny Cunningham from Ireland as well, a player they’ve missed through injury of late.

Matthew Upson has done well since his switch from Arsenal, well enough to force his way into the England squad and Damien Johnson is a good player who can slot into two or three positions.

It’s a familiar squad and for them it will no doubt be about if they can get two or three of the injuries back again. They certainly have enough quality in the side and a great work ethic.