More injury worries for Bruce

Birmingham’s survival hopes have been dealt a blow with the key trio of Damien Johnson, Chris Sutton and Muzzy Izzet set to miss the Premiership battles with Middlesbrough and West Brom through injury.

Johnson (knee), Sutton (hip and groin) and Izzet (calf) all had to be substituted during Saturday’s single-goal victory over bottom-placed Sunderland.

It was the latest setbacks in an injury-riddled season for Steve Bruce’s side, which has deprived them of key players for lengthy periods.

Bruce said: “We scratch our head and beat ourselves up because the one thing we used to have here was a fit and healthy squad and at the moment we are not that at all – and haven’t been for a long time.

“It is quite horrific and that is the downside of things for me. We are in a huge month and it looks like we are going to be without Sutton, Izzet, and Johnson for the foreseeable future.

“All three must be serious doubts for next week’s game at Middlesbrough and I would have thought for the week after against West Brom as well.

“Against Sunderland I had to make three substitutions because of injuries. How often does a manager have to make three changes for injuries in a match? But I have had to do it five or six times this season.”

Bruce added: “Johnson has got a knee injury and, if he has to come off, then he is hurt because they don’t make them like him anymore.

“Sutton has got a knock on his hip and groin and is sore.

“Muzzy was physically tired. I should have taken him off but I didn’t have a natural replacement. You are thinking: ’Can he get through the 90 minutes?’ and he is injured again.”

Blues are now back in contention to stay up following West Brom’s defeat by Middlesbrough and they trail the Baggies by just three points and have a game in hand.

Bruce said: “I hope it goes right the way down to the wire. Whether the ticker will survive it, I’m not quite so sure! But we are back in the shake-up.

“The initial target is to over-take West Brom but we both hope we can drag someone else back into the scrap to stay up.”

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