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Stepping up at St Andrews

English Barclays Premiership

George Graham is expecting a tough time at St Andrews on Saturday. After easing our way back into action on the tour of Scandinavia, Birmingham City provide us with our first friendly on English soil (3pm).

Click here to listen to George Graham's comments

City are geared up for the Premiership and Trevor Francis (right) and his men have agonisingly missed out in the Nationwide First Division play-offs for the last two seasons. They will be determined to make it third-time-lucky - and what better way to underline their ambitions than giving us a hard time in front of their passionate fans.

Manager George Graham said: "I expect a hard game up there. Birmingham have done very well in the last couple of years and just missed out on promotion to the Premiership. Trevor Francis has done a good job and it will be a test for us.

"We still must approach these friendly matches as part of the build-up and preparation for the season. We will have trained hard both technically and physically on Friday morning before travelling up to Birmingham."

The boss has been impressed with his players' attitude and application so far in pre-season. The performances and results on the Scandinavian tour - three games, three wins, 14 goals scored, none conceded - were certainly impressive but he knows not to get too carried away and that Saturday's match represents a notable step up.

He added: "The trip to Sweden and three games over there was our second week of the season and the level of opposition was about right. That got us nice and easy into the footballing side of it without picking up too many injuries.

"It's now about the next step up both technically and physically against Birmingham. You are starting to go into a much more intense game, more like the Premiership. I think Birmingham will be a good test for us. I'm looking forward to it."

TICKET NEWS: Fans travelling to St Andrews pay on the gate. Prices are L10 (adults) or L5 (concessions).

Photographs courtesy of Action Images Ltd.

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