McLeish hopes break boosts Blues

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The Independent Football

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish insists his team will be raring to go against Manchester United tomorrow following their unexpected "mid-winter break".

McLeish's team have seen their last two games called off due to adverse weather conditions, meaning they have not played since being beaten by Wolves on December 12.

But the former Scotland boss reports that his team's training schedule has returned to normal, having been affected by the sheer weight of snowfall in the midlands earlier in the month.

"There's that mid-winter break we've all been asking for," McLeish joked.

"I don't think the players have lost any sharpness because we've had a really good week in training.

"They were like kids with toys, getting out on the grass, because we did have some problems clearing the snow from the grass in the previous week, so training was interrupted."

The postponements may have eased Birmingham's busy fixture schedule, but McLeish's men face an intensive start to 2011, due to rearranged matches and the two legs of the Carling Cup semi-final against West Ham.

They are also due to visit Blackpool on January 4, a match which may also be threatened if the cold snap persists, due to the lack of undersoil heating at Bloomfield Road.

Despite such concerns, McLeish is not troubled by the winter schedule.

"I don't know what good it does to worry about something like that," he said.

"You've just got to handle it, it's the challenge that we face.

"If any group of players can overcome that, it's this bunch.

"You've got to keep the focus for the next game, and the next game's against Manchester United."

McLeish was at Old Trafford on Boxing Day to watch Sir Alex Ferguson's side maintain their unbeaten Premier League record this season with a win over Sunderland.

McLeish hopes his team's performances at home against the Premier League's top sides this season will allow them to believe they can end United's run.

"They were pretty impressive," he said.

"Someday, Man United will lose a game, and I'm hoping and believing it's us that can do that.

"We're at St Andrew's, and I think we have to believe.

"We've upset the big teams before, and it would be nice if we can do that again.

"We've heard opposition managers of those teams say it's a difficult place to come to and we want United to be saying that after the game."