Birmingham meets Wolves in FA Cup

Birmingham meets Wolves in FA Cup

LONDON - The Associated Press
Birmingham meets Wolves in FA Cup

Wolves’ Steve Fletcher (L) celebrates with teammate Karl Henry after scoring against Tottenham Hotspurs during an English Premier League game. REUTERS photo

Although Wolverhampton Wanderers could trade divisions with Birmingham at the end of the season, the relegation-threatened Premier League club will get a chance to put its local rival in its place when the teams meet in the FA Cup tonight.

The central England sides are set to replay a third-round match at Molineux after a 0-0 draw on Jan. 7 and Birmingham are the form side.

While Wolves are just a point above the Premier League relegation zone, the Blues hover just outside the promotion playoff spots in the second-tier League Championship following a 6-0 win at Millwall at the weekend.

But Wolves showed they can still compete with in-form sides with a 1-1 draw at third-place Tottenham on Saturday and manager Mick McCarthy is looking for his team to carry that improved form into Wednesday’s match.

“We have been harder to beat in recent weeks, without a doubt,” McCarthy said. “We’d been tough and determined as we always are and we were well organized.

“I didn’t want any more heroic failures.” The chance for local bragging rights should mean neither side is complacent about a match that both might understandably place below league fixtures on their list of priorities, but McCarthy is still set to tinker with his lineup.

Steven Fletcher scored his ninth goal of the season at the weekend but is likely to be omitted on Wednesday.

“I did (rest Fletcher) last week against Birmingham amid much confusion about why I wasn’t playing my best player,” McCarthy said. “Well, I want him to play in the Premier League because it’s paramount we have a player there who is on a run and is scoring goals.

“I didn’t think having Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle against Birmingham was a downer anyway. Rest assured, Fletch will probably be getting a rest on Wednesday.” Birmingham and its manager Chris Hughton are trying to get back into the Premier League and Wolves are fighting to stay there. “It’s nice to get a point at Arsenal and Spurs but ... we can’t rest on our laurels with two good performances in North London,” McCarthy said. “We need to do it in the West Midlands as well.”