Preview: Swans v Birmingham

29th January 2019
First team

Swansea City will come up against a familiar face as they look to further extend their best run of form under Graham Potter when they host Birmingham tonight (7.45pm).

Blues boss Garry Monk will find himself in the away dressing room and the away dug-out at the Liberty for the first time having been a superb servant of the Swans during his playing and managerial career.

There were three promotions and two unforgettable days at Wembley during Monk's time at the heart of the Swansea defence and, as manager, he went on to guide them to their best Premier League finish of eighth in 2015.

One would expect the 39-year-old to get a good reception but there will be no room for sentimentality once the action gets under way, with both sides desperate to keep pace in the play-off hunt.

Potter's hosts are enjoying their best run of the season to date having gone unbeaten through six games to keep within sight of the top six and reach the last 16 of the FA Cup.

They will be keen to keep that going on home turf having seen off high-flying Sheffield United in their previous league fixture.

Birmingham are without a win since Boxing Day, but the Swans will need no reminding of the difficulty the Blues caused them in the reverse fixture back in August, with Potter admitting his side had been "very fortunate" to emerge with a goalless draw on that occasion.

Team news

Kyle Naughton and Tom Carroll are in contention to feature for the Swans after knee and hip injuries respectively, while Oli McBurnie is also fine after taking a blow to his foot against the Gills.

But Wayne Routledge will miss out with his calf injury, while Joe Rodon and Martin Olsson are out for the mid-term and long-term respectively.

Pre-match views

Graham Potter: "I think we are in our best form of the season so far, the results would probably say that and our performances have been quite consistent I think. But we’re playing against a good team and we need to be ready for that."

Bersant Celina: "It’ll be a hard game but we want to go out and do our best to win. I think we’re good enough to not lose games. Hopefully, we can keep winning."

Garry Monk on his time at Swansea: "It was an unbelievable experience. Everyone who was part of that will always remember it - they will be the days you remember when you finish.

"They are just brilliant, brilliant memories. There were some great people, great team-mates, fans loving the journey. I made some really good friends, friends for life, and I will never forget that."

Remember the last time?

The last four meetings between these sides have taken place at St Andrew's, and this will be Birmingham's first trip to the Liberty since November of 2008.

They will be hoping for a repeat of the outcome from that meeting after leaving South Wales will all three points from the Championship meeting following a 3-2 victory.

It had all looked so promising for the Swans when Jordi Gomez fired them into a second-minute lead as he found the net from a Fede Bessone cross.

However, after losing Ferrie Bodde to a serious knee injury, they were pegged back by a Marcus Bent header, only for Liam Ridgewell to steer the ball into his own net and put the hosts back ahead.

Swansea looked on track for victory, but the introduction of substitute Kevin Phillips would prove crucial for Birmingham as the veteran striker scored twice in five minutes to turn the game around and condemn Roberto Martinez's team to a first home defeat of the season.

Prime numbers

11 - It's a record that may only stretch back to last season, but Swansea head into their final January fixture unbeaten in 11-straight games held in the first month of the year. They have won seven and drawn four Liberty January games since a defeat to Tottenham in their first fixture of 2018.

347 - Garry Monk will go down as one of Swansea City's finest servants after spending almost 12 years in total with the club. Over the course of his time in SA1 he played in or managed 347 Swans games. Tonight will be his first visit to the Liberty as an opponent.