Don’t think we’re safe just yet, warns Monk
BIRMINGHAM City manager Garry Monk knows his side still have work to do, despite taking a big step towards Championship survival with Tuesday’s 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers.
Lukas Jutkiewicz’s 40th-minute goal sank his old club and lifted the Blues level on points with Wanderers, five points clear of the bottom three.
Birmingham have won their last three games, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion, but Monk is not taking anything for granted.
“We knew it was a massive game against a team who were directly above us,” said Monk.
“We knew it was an opportunity to try and claw them closer to us and pull them into this relegation fight.
“What the three wins in a row have done is keep boosting the belief.
“However, I am very mindful we are still very much in a relegation fight.
“It is going to change week to week but what we want to be is a team that hunts for the guys above us rather than checking over our shoulders all the time.
“We still need more wins and more points.”
Monk was dismissive of opposite number Phil Parkinson’s claims for two second-half penalties for handball against Wes Harding and Michael Morrison.
Referee Oliver Langford turned down both appeals but showed Birmingham’s Che Adams a red card for a challenge on substitute Craig Noone.
Monk said: “They were never penalties – a penalty has to be deliberate handball. The hands were by their side.
“But it was the type of game when fans were going to appeal for everything so you needed a strong referee.”
On Adams’ red card Monk added: “I saw Che’s momentum going for the ball and it was a 50-50 ball because it JOTA is finally enjoying himself at Blues. The anticipation was tangible when the Spaniard (right) signed on deadline day last summer as Blues’ record signing.
That was only natural; Jota set the Championship alight at times during his days at Brentford and Bluenoses were contemplating those performances in royal blue.
His debut was delayed by a hamstring injury. His big chance to shine came in the wasn’t in the possession of the player. He had to go for it and there is nothing Second City derby against Villa when, put through one-on-one, he skied Blues’ best chance into the Tilton.
By that point, Jota had bid farewell to Harry Redknapp, the man who attracted him to St Andrew’s. His place under Steve Cotterill was under threat and it wouldn’t be long before he found himself on the bench a little too often for his own liking.
“It is true, with the next manager after Harry left, I malicious in it. Some people said yes it was and others said it wasn’t, so I didn’t have a good feeling from the first day and when you haven’t a good feeling it’s difficult. But I always try to work hard, I continue working, keep believing,” Jota continued.
“Now with Garry Monk I am very happy. I have the confidence. I think for the previous months I was working in the dark because I wasn’t playing, but I continued working and now we can see the difference.” will have to look at it again.” Now Blues are facing a striker shortage as Adams’ red card at Bolton compounded Sam Gallagher’s ‘frustrating’ injury situation.
It would be surprising if they can find grounds to appeal what is currently a three-game ban for Adams – instead the hope is that Gallagher can recover from the calf injury which has kept him out of the last three matches.
With Adams due to miss Saturday’s game with Burton and the trips to Bristol City and Wolves, Monk admitted Gallagher’s situation is far from ideal.
“It’s very difficult, it’s a day-to-day one,” he said. “Some days he feels a bit better and other days he goes back to being sore.
“It’s just the build-up of scar tissue in his calf. Because of the area it is in it changes day to day.
“We are hoping. We need him quickly as possible.
“We will have to see with the Che situation if there’s anything we can do with that but we are very light in attacking options anyway.
“But we won’t make any excuses, we will deal with what we have to deal with.
“Hopefully Sam can make very soon.
“We will have a look at him and see if he is ready for the weekend, but it’s more of a day-to-day one, which is frustrating, it’s frustrating for Sam and it’s frustrating for us.’’ as it back
> Garry Monk applauds the Blues fans after a victory that came despite the sending-off of Che Adams (below)