Football: Todd emphasises consistency for Blues' visit

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The Independent Online
Bolton may be 11 points clear at the top of the First Division, but yesterday their manager, Colin Todd, insisted before Birmingham's visit today: "The main thing is we maintain our consistency. We have got ourselves into a very strong position, but there's still a long way to go."

Todd hopes his midfielder John Sheridan recovers from the muscle injury that kept him out of the midweek win at Stoke. Wanderers also have the winger David Lee fit again after a hamstring injury as they seek their seventh successive League win.

Birmingham's player-coach, Steve Bruce, starts a two-match suspension, with Michael Johnson coming into central defence. But Trevor Francis will have his resources strengthened by Nicky Forster and Anders Limpar following their moves from Brentford and Everton.

Howard Kendall will be hoping that yesterday's pounds 700,000 signing, Jan Age Fjortoft from Middlesbrough, will give second-placed Sheffield United a lift at the Norwegian's former club, Swindon, who will miss Kevin Horlock following the Northern Ireland midfielder's pounds 1.5m move to Manchester City. Swindon's player-manager Steve McMahon may be pressed into action while Mark Walters is pushing for a recall after a thigh injury.

Bradford City, who followed their FA Cup win at Everton with a 1-0 midweek victory over Port Vale to move out of the bottom three, expect Andy Kiwomya, Carl Shutt and Des Hamilton to shake off knocks for the derby with Huddersfield at Valley Parade. Huddersfield, who lost 4-1 at Reading in midweek, have Tom Cowan, Rob Edwards, Wayne Burnett and Simon Collins back in contention.

The Norwich manager, Mike Walker, will be without Shaun Carey, who has a hamstring problem, but has Ian Crook and Andy Johnson back in the squad for the visit of Barnsley to Carrow Road. Barnsley, two places above the Canaries in third, have the Dutch defender Arjan De Zeeuw doubtful with the chest infection that ruled him out of the 3-2 win at Grimsby on Wednesday, with Peter Shirtliff set to continue.

Elsewhere Queen's Park Rangers, on the up, welcome Crystal Palace, on the slide, to Loftus Road while Wolves, fourth, entertain their fellow challengers Stoke at Molineux.