Barry expecting great things from Dzeko
Gareth Barry believes Edin Dzeko's first goal for Manchester City could herald the start of a prolific spell for his team's latest big-money signing.
City paid £27m to sign Dzeko from German club Wolfsburg and the Bosnian forward repaid a small slice of that fee as his late equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw against League One club Notts County in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday. While that result was hardly one of City's best this season, England midfielder Barry is hopeful Dzeko's goal will boost his confidence and lead to another predatory display against Birmingham in Wednesday's Premier League clash at St Andrew's.
"The longer a striker goes without a goal it can affect him so maybe this will send him the other way," Barry said. "Strikers thrive on confidence, so hopefully it will be the start of many goals. If you look at his record, his ratio of goals per game is good and if he keeps that going he will be a big star. The competition is very tough at City now and Edin is another quality player going straight into the team."
Meanwhile, City boss Roberto Mancini has accepted the loss of Adam Johnson will hit them hard as they try to catch Premier League leaders Manchester United. England winger Johnson has been one of City's most influential players this season but has damaged ankle ligaments in training.
He may be out for the season which is a blow for City, especially because Argentine forward Carlos Tevez is also struggling at the moment with a back complaint. "We have a big problem with Johnson out for three months," Mancini said. "It is the same injury as Aleksander Kolarov had at the start of the season, and he is very unlucky."
McLeish happy with squad competition
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is likely to hand a debut to new signing Curtis Davies against City. The 25-year-old centre-back has arrived for a reported fee of £3.5m from local rivals Aston Villa and will step into the void left by Scott Dann's season-ending injury.
And McLeish believes Birmingham have pulled off a major coup in landing a player whom Villa bought for £10m in 2008. "Curtis is a young centre-half," said McLeish. "He's got a big reputation, had a wonderful move to Villa, but it never quite worked out for him there.
"Now there's a chance to resurrect his career and just show how good a player he is. We have got good competition with Dann, Roger Johnson and Martin Jiranek at the moment. It's great timing for us, a great acquisition. Well done to the board for doing this deal because it looked as if it could be dependent on Seb Larsson (going the other way) and they (the board) have done it without him being involved."
McLeish was without Ben Foster, Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Barry Ferguson, Matt Derbyshire and Lee Bowyer for Saturday's FA Cup win over Coventry, but he hopes they will be fit enough to return to his squad for the visit of the title-chasing City. He said: "I know I made changes but they were changes because players were genuinely injured.
"We've got a game on Wednesday and we'll try to do a rush job on their injuries to make everyone available for midweek. But it's great to rotate the squad and get a performance like that. When you see the quality that we have in the squad, any one of these guys on that kind of form walks into the team every week, but the competition is intense and that's healthy."