Birmingham boosted by Furlong

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The Independent Online
Birmingham City expect to have their record signing, Paul Furlong, back to lead their attack in today's First Division game with Grimsby at St Andrew's as the manager of the month, Trevor Francis, looks to boost his side's promotion quest.

Furlong, signed from Chelsea for pounds 1.5m in the summer, missed the midweek home draw with Barnsley because of a leg injury suffered at Norwich last weekend. With Paul Devlin still suspended and Ricky Otto ineffective up front against the Tykes, it could mean Furlong linking up with the transfer- listed Mike Newell.

Newell, available after a three-match suspension, is back in contention after Bolton pulled out of the running to sign the former Everton and Blackburn player. "As far as I am concerned the deal's now dead," Francis said. "Mike is free to play after suspension but I haven't decided whether he will be in my plans."

Francis added: "The team spirit in the camp is terrific now but we are still in the process of building this team. We are not yet the finished article."

Manchester City's goalkeeper, Martyn Margetson, who feared he had broken his leg after being carried off in the first minute of Sunday's defeat at Wolves, is set to face Bradford at Maine Road. Tests only revealed severe bruising and swelling to both knees and he has been able to resume full training. City's caretaker manager, Phil Neal, who has new signing Neil Heaney fit to return, said: "The lads are in good spirit and we need to start winning matches. That will help everyone's confidence."

The leaders, Bolton, are not in action until tomorrow, when they will be looking to end a run of four successive draws when they visit West Bromwich Albion.