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Birmingham City boss Lee Clark having a hard time — just like Michael Laudrup at Swansea City

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 24, 2014

Under pressure Birmingham City manager Lee Clark.

Under pressure Birmingham City manager Lee Clark.

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"TO say we're disappointed is a bit of an understatement."

It might have been Michael Laudrup reflecting on Swansea City's latest Premier League setback last weekend.

In fact it was Terry McDermott, Birmingham City's assistant manager, in the wake of a home defeat in the Championship against lowly Yeovil Town.

Last Saturday's 2-0 loss is the most recent in a line of disappointing results, and left the Blues crying out for reinforcements.

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And so in the FA Cup tomorrow, two clubs who are in similar predicaments clash.

Birmingham can take heart from the fact that they have beaten Swansea once already this season, in the Capital One Cup back in September.

But Swansea ought to take confidence from the Midlands club's home record, which is the second-worst in the Championship.

Lee Clark's team have won just two of 11 fixtures on their own patch since they embarrassed Swansea in the autumn.

One was against Millwall the following week, and the other, against League Two strugglers Bristol Rovers, set up this weekend's second crack at Swansea.

Birmingham have had more joy, winning five league games on the road, and hence they are five points clear of the Championship drop zone rather than right in the mire. But just like Laudrup, Clark is having to endure a bit of a struggle right now.

Birmingham have not been helped by the loss of Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) and Dan Burn (Fulham), who have both impressed on loan this season but are now back at their parent clubs.

Another big player for Clark this season has been Kyle Bartley, the central defender on a year-long loan from Swansea.

But he missed out with injury against Yeovil and, fit or not, he is ineligible to face his parent club tomorrow.

With Bartley influential, Birmingham compiled a ten-game unbeaten run which stretched from early November to the beginning of January.

But they face Swansea on the back of successive league defeats and with some influential players either unavailable or no longer around, with loan striker Aaron McLean another who has recently said his goodbyes. "When you look at the bench, there are one or two younger boys on there and sometimes you need an experienced head to come on," says goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

"It will definitely help if the manager can get some people through the door."

Clark has been working hard to try to recruit new faces, with free agent midfielder Brian Howard joining on a short-term deal last week, while Manchester City youngster Albert Rusnak joined on loan this week.

But just like his opposite number this weekend, the former Huddersfield manager has had his share of selection headaches of late.

Clark's team may already have humbled Swansea once this season, but they will not be in ideal shape as they attempt to repeat the trick.

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