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Wolves battle beleaguered Birmingham on Rowett’s derby debut

Wolverhampton Wanderers did a derby double over Birmingham City when both were last in the same division two seasons ago. As Wolves sit joint-top of the Championship and the Blues are second-bottom, the hosts are odds-on 8/15 favourites with Coral to beat their local rivals again.

Considering Birmingham are under new management, with former player Gary Rowett moving from Burton Albion, a 6/1 price on an away victory could be considered tempting by punters. The Blues boss has to rebuild shattered confidence, however, as his charges were battered by Bournemouth prior to his appointment.

Odds of 11/4 say Rowett can scrape a draw at Molineux, and he has drawn a line under the capitulation. “I’ve not even mentioned the weekend [loss to the Cherries] to the players,” he said at his unveiling.

“Sometimes a group of men maybe need to be brought to rock bottom to regroup and regenerate. As a player I twice lost 7-1. You can start crying or roll up your sleeves.” And roll them up Rowett must, having completed the loan signing of centre back Michael Morrison, who is out of favour at Charlton Athletic.

Goals are a major problem for beleaguered Birmingham, 6/5 second-favourites for relegation. They have drawn a blank in each of their previous three matches, with their last scorer being former Wolves midfielder David Davis. It’s 12/1 he grabs another goal here.

David Cotterill (a 6/1 shot in the anytime market), and joint-leading marksmen Clayton Donaldson and Wes Thomas (both 10/3) are players Rowett must rejuvenate in attack. Wanderers will still have to be wary about another old boy in the Blues midfield, Stephen Gleeson. It’s 15/2 he nets on derby day.

Mali winger Bakary Sako is the man Wolves want to get fit. He missed their last outing, a 2-1 win at Leeds United, in the week he was linked with a January move to Aston Villa, but has four in as many league outings and three in the previous three at home. Should he feature, Sako is brilliant value at 13/10 in the anytime market.

With Wanderers 5/2 promotion chances this term, they will be intent on showing no mercy to their struggling West Midlands neighbours. Kenny Jackett also has to decide whether he picks Nouha Dicko (7/2 to net the opener) or Leon Clarke up front (17/10 anytime and 5/1 to be on target last), after the latter scored the winner at Leeds.

All signs point to an enthralling, cut-and-thrust derby day which should delight neutrals and be agonising for fans of Wolves and Birmingham. Backing a home win with both teams being on target is tasty at 21/10.