‘Controversial’ defensive change as Wayne Rooney adjusts system – Birmingham City predicted XI vs Cardiff City

Birmingham City is eager to halt their dismal streak of results when they face Cardiff City away from home on Wednesday. Wayne Rooney, managing just one win in his initial nine matches in charge, finds Blues in the poorest form among all Championship teams during this period.

Their recent 2-0 loss to local rivals Coventry City saw Callum O’Hare scoring twice, contributing to Birmingham’s woes, particularly as they dealt with injuries. Dion Sanderson missed his first game of the season, compounded by the absences of Ethan Laird and Cody Drameh, forcing Juninho Bacuna to step in as a makeshift right-back.

Although some fitness concerns have been addressed since last Friday, Rooney still grapples with the absence of several key players. To reverse the team’s fortunes, a tactical shift might be on the cards, potentially reverting to the 4-4-2 diamond formation that previously earned Blues a point against Ipswich Town.

Considering this adjustment in strategy, here is our predicted starting lineup of 11 players that Rooney might field at Cardiff City Stadium.

1. GK: John Ruddy

Despite the setback, Ruddy shone at Coventry, keeping Blues in the game with a run of excellent saves.

2. RB: Cody Drameh


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Drameh missed the previous game after injuring his ankle in practice, but he should be ready to go this time. Meanwhile, Ethan Laird has been hurt again.

3. CB: Dion Sanderson

The skipper saw his run of starts finally come to an end as he didn’t play at Coventry due to some foot pain. Rooney expects Sanderson to be back this week.

4. CB: Marc Roberts

Although Roberts’ return is debatable, he delivered a significant aerial presence on Friday. In contrast, new signing Emanuel Aiwu is struggling.

5. LB: Lee Buchanan

To be sure, Buchanan appears to be developing into a viable option at left-back. He’s given Blues some much-needed consistency.

6. RM: Juninho Bacuna

Bacuna is likely to move back up the field after filling in at right-back. Didn’t do a bad job there but is definitely better when he can get more involved with attacks.

7. CM: Ivan Sunjic

Sunjic will be thinking it’s about time he got a game following Krystian Bielik’s poor performance. In midfield, Rooney sorely needs to change things up.

8. CM: Jordan James

The Welshman appears to be fitting in with Rooney’s tactics better than any other midfielder at current.

9. LM: Siriki Dembele

Dembele has been in and out of form recently, scoring twice at Blackburn but failing to find the net against Rotherham and Coventry. A solid showing is required here.

10. ST: Jay Stansfield

The Fulham man has been playing in a variety of places recently, but if Rooney changes his tactics, he should revert to the number nine role.

11. ST: Oliver Burke

Burke might return to the lineup if the diamond is changed from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2. That strategy worked quite well against Ipswich a few months ago.

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