McLeish backs Blues ahead of tough run

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish is backing his Birmingham side to regain their bite and bounce back from yesterday's disappointing 1-0 derby defeat to Wolves at Molineux.

It was an afternoon to forget for Blues as they put in an uncharacteristically subdued performance to lose against Wanderers for the first time since 2001.



McLeish admitted it was a poor display from his side, but also stressed struggling Wolves deserved more credit for the way they played in a game which many thought they were there for the taking due to the club's bulging treatment room.



But it is always about the next match and, as Birmingham look to extend the two-point gap between themselves and the bottom three, McLeish is confident his players will be chomping at the bit to right the wrongs of yesterday when Newcastle visit St Andrew's this Saturday.



"I saw Wolves beat Manchester City here, and they're second in the league, it shows any team can beat anybody in this Barclays Premier League and there's no reason why we can't beat the teams who are coming up," said the Scot, with Everton, Manchester United and Arsenal lying in wait after the Magpies.



"It will be a very difficult December going into January, it's tough, but that's the challenge of the league and we're delighted to be here. We'll be up for the challenge, there's no doubt about it.



"My players have already shown their resilience in bouncing back from games.



"A few weeks ago we went into a period of games - Manchester City away, Chelsea home, Fulham away, Spurs home - and you lot (the media) had us for nothing out of 12, and we ended up with six points.



"So that's an amazing return for a team who were tipped to get nothing.



"There's no reason why we can't do that again, we've already proved it, the evidence is there. I've got a dressing room who will be hurting by the way they played in the first 60 minutes here and I'm sure they will want to atone for that as they've done many times in the past."



Wolves were missing no less than 11 players heading into the encounter, with key performers such as Kevin Doyle, Matt Jarvis, Michael Mancienne, Karl Henry, Steven Mouyokolo, David Jones and Jody Craddock all sidelined.



But the strength of character within the Molineux ranks was there for all to see as they bossed the clash from start to finish.



And Mick McCarthy had nothing but praise for his charges.



"There's two way of looking at it if you're me - bemoan the injury list and think 'It's not right', or big the lads up who are playing and to be fair we had a good team out there," he said.



"Wardy (Stephen) has gone back to the job that we bought him for £100,000 three or four years ago and he was brilliant, he's had a fabulous performance.



"I thought Sylvan (Ebanks-Blake) was terrific, he had a really good performance and those two centre-halves (Roger Johnson and Scott Dann) have had as hard a game as they've had all season, they've had a really tough afternoon."



Stephen Hunt fired the game's only goal just before half-time, sneaking in between Johnson and Stephen Carr to pounce at the near post and beat Ben Foster on an afternoon when the England international stopped everything else thrown at him.



It was the Irishman's second goal in three games in what was only his 10th outing of the season having made his long-awaited return from a foot injury.



"That's my kind of goal and hopefully there's more to come," said Hunt afterwards.



"I'm happy enough with the goals coming from midfield and the rest of my game is getting better and better.



"When we play 4-4-2 I'm up and down the pitch and it's better for me. I had a few rusty touches but it will come."

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