Birmingham aim to overtake Villa

John Curtis
Monday 03 March 2003 01:00

The Birmingham City chairman David Gold, speaking prior to tonight's derby at Aston Villa, revealed that his target is to make the St Andrew's club "the leading club in the Midlands".

As the region's only Premiership club, Villa's status as the No 1 club had been unchallenged for many years until Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion were both promoted last season.

While West Bromwich have performed miracles with their shoestring budget, Birmingham have demonstrated they have the monetary muscle and ambition to strive to be more than just survivors.

"David Sullivan took the club over and saved it from extinction and myself and Ralph [Gold] came on board two weeks later and we've worked relentlessly for 10 years," Gold said. "It was a rollercoaster ride and some of the hardest times were when we went down to the Second Division... But we kept the faith and a long term ambition was to one day become the No 1 club in the Midlands – and we certainly still want to do that.

"We want more Midlands clubs in the Premiership. We hope West Brom can stay up and Wolves can make it up – but we do want to become the leading club."

Meanwhile, there is the little matter of trying to complete a double over Villa, after the 3-0 success at St Andrew's in September, although Steve Bruce's side have a number of injury problems.

Darren Purse and Aliou Cissé are both ruled out with ankle injuries. Martin Grainger (knee) also misses out but the Birmingham manager may recall the Senegalese full-back Ferdinand Coly, who has had a toe injury.

For Villa, Dion Dublin is available after suspension and is expected to return in place of Peter Crouch. Alpay Ozalan is set to continue after settling disagreements with the Villa manager Graham Taylor, while Darius Vassell has recovered from a facial wound sustained at Charlton.

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