Birmingham must show 'bottle' demands Alex McLeish

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is urging his players to recapture the form that earned them their Carling Cup triumph as they relaunch their battle for Barclays Premier League survival.

McLeish is hoping the two-week international break has recharged the batteries of his squad for the final nine games of the campaign.

City caused a major upset when they overcame Arsenal 2-1 at Wembley just over a month ago.

But since then they have taken one point from three games and slipped into the bottom three ahead of Saturday's home encounter with Bolton.

McLeish admits a combination of experience and showing "bottle" will be vital in the final two months of the campaign.

He said: "There is no doubt the break gave respite to some players who were ready to explode, ready to implode.

"Some players have been running on empty over the past few weeks.

"Others like Roger Johnson have been hanging by a thread over the past few weeks with various different injuries.

"I would like to think these guys are refreshed and ready for the battle."

McLeish added: "It is now about experienced guys who have got the bottle to handle pressure situations.

"We are going to try and get back to the form that saw us storm into the Carling Cup final.

"We've got to get back to the type of commitment and tempo that has earned the plaudits for the team."

McLeish is also trying to relax his players after admitting he sensed they were tense during the last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Wigan a fortnight ago.

He said: "I noticed a sense of tension throughout the game and that is what I've got to try and put right.

"It is difficult to get into players' minds and difficult to control emotions.

"But I can only try and help them with words and try and reassure them with the evidence and the past experiences, the proven victories they've had, that can reinforce their confidence."

Central defender Martin Jiranek is doubtful after undergoing a minor toe operation but midfielder Lee Bowyer and striker Nikola Zigic are back in contention after hamstring and groin problems.

Bowyer has resumed training while Zigic played for Serbia in midweek.

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