Don’t think we’re safe just yet, warns Monk

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Foot­ball Writer

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)

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