The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ross Law­son

MAIKEL Kieften­beld is more than happy to be a box-to-box mid­fielder for Birm­ing­ham City, even if that means he doesn’t get to com­plete the full 90 min­utes.

The Dutch mid­fielder has been in­structed by boss Gian­franco Zola to get him­self into the op­po­si­tion’s penalty area to sup­port the lone striker.

How­ever, that doesn’t mean Kieften­beld can ne­glect his de­fen­sive du­ties and the 26-year-old knows there are fresh legs on the bench to re­place him once he’s given ev­ery­thing for the team.

“The man­ager has given me a bit of a dif­fer­ent role. Even if we play with one striker, he still wants peo­ple in the box,” he explained.

“It was funny be­fore Wolves as he pulled me and David Davis over and said he wanted us to play like sec­ond strik­ers when crosses came over and get into the box.

“The man­ager wants me to de­fend as well but make it into the box.

“My­self and David Davis, we have to run a lot, but we can. It’s one of our strong­est points.

“It’s hard, but I don’t care. We need to play com­pact as well as get for­ward.

“If we can do that for the team, that’s what we will do. If you see the bench we can make changes if needed.

“I have to run and, if I do that for 60, 70 min­utes, then you have Maghoma on the bench, Ste­wart on the bench, Frei on the bench, Glee­son on the bench.”

With plenty of miles to be cov­ered, the Dutch­man added that the sup­port of the home crowd at St An­drew’s has a big part to play.

“It’s a hard time for the fans as well at the mo­ment, but you can’t say they don’t give us sup­port and that’s what we need,” Kieften­beld added.

GRAFT: Maikel Kieften­beld

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