Preview: Birmingham v Liverpool

Premier League action returns with Liverpool traveling to St. Andrews to face Birmingham on Sunday afternoon.

St Andrews Ground Birmingham City v Liverpool (1-1) Premier League 04/04/2010 Lucas, Sotiros Kyrigakos (Liverpool) Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Roy Hodgson goes looking for his first away win in the league since taking charge of the Reds this summer, knowing that his new side’s next match is a trip to Old Trafford.

Joe Cole will serve the final match of his ban following his dismissal against Arsenal in the opening fixture. Fernando Torres should be fully fit after being rested for Spain’s friendly with Argentina in midweek.

Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson both enjoyed success for England both individually and collectively during the international break and should return in good spirits.

Meanwhile, new signings Paul Konchesky and Raul Meireles are set to make their Liverpool debuts. Konchesky is likely to slot in at left back, having played 45 minutes in Jamie Carragher’s testimonial match last weekend. While Meireles could come into the side alongside Lucas Leiva in midfield, allowing Gerrard to play a more advanced role again. That would mean Christian Poulsen missing out.

Dirk Kuyt is out with the shoulder injury he suffered for Holland that will keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the month. Maxi Rodriguez is favourite to replace the Dutchman on the right, while Milan Jovanovic is likely to start on the left.

Birmingham will be without their new signing Alexander Hleb. Alex McLeish’s side are on a 16 match unbeaten home streak.

This fixture last season saw Rafa Benitez controversially substitute Torres and end 1-1, all but ending any feint hopes Liverpool had of finishing in the top four. Gerrard scored the opener then only for Liam Ridgewell to take advantage of some poor defending to equalise.

Head to head:
Liverpool 46 wins, Birmingham 28 wins, 24 draws.

Liverpool win: 6/5. Liverpool win 2-0: 17/2. Liverpool win 2-1: 8/1.
Torres 1st Goal: 4/1. Ngog 1st Goal: 6/1. Gerrard 1st Goal: 7/1.

Live: Sky Sports
Kick off: 4pm
Referee: Mark Halsey
Assistant referees: Simon Long & Glenn Turner
Fourth official: Stuart Atwell

Did you know?
Liverpool never beat Birmingham in the league under Rafa Benitez’s stewardship (8 attempts). They did though rout the Blues 7-0 on the way to winning the FA Cup in 2005/06.