We will bounce back from the Molineux mess, says McLeish

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish is backing his Birmingham side to bounce back from Sunday's disappointing 1-0 derby defeat by Wolverhampton at Molineux.

It was an afternoon to forget for City, who put in an uncharacteristically subdued performance to lose against the Wanderers for the first time since 2001.

Manager McLeish admitted it was a poor display from his side, but also stressed that struggling Wolves deserved credit for the way they played despite their lengthy injury list.

But, as Birmingham look to extend the two-point gap between themselves and the bottom three, McLeish is confident his players will make amends when Newcastle visit St Andrew's next Saturday.

"I saw Wolves beat Manchester City [at Molineux], and they're second in the League – it shows any team can beat anybody in this Premier League, and there's no reason why we can't beat the teams who are coming up," said the Scot, whose team has 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, 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 down for nothing out of 12, and we ended up with six points.

"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 [on Sunday] and I'm sure they will want to atone for that as they've done many times in the past."

Wolves were missing no fewer than 11 players going into the Midlands derby match, 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 dominated the match from start to finish.

The Wolves manager Mick McCarthy had nothing but praise for his charges. "There's two ways 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 three or four years ago, for £100,000, and he was brilliant, he 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] had as hard a game as they've had all season. They 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 keeper 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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