The linchpin to Birmingham City's successful season-and-a-half since returning to the English Premier League has been the central defense combination of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, but much of that success was front-loaded, the Blues finishing ninth last season. This year, Birmingham City is back in a relegation battle, and with half of their central defense out for the season, Alex McLeish will have to find a new way to keep his club in England's top flight.
That's the state of affairs at St. Andrews after today's announcement that Dann will miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, bought from Coventry City before last season, is likely to miss the rest of the season a hamstring injury, the Telegraph reports:
The 23 year-old sustained the injury at Upton Park last week during Birmingham City’s 2-1 Carling Cup semi-final first leg defeat to West Ham, and McLeish accepted it has in all probability ruled the defender out for the rest of the season.
"It will be a long shot for Scott to be back before the end of this season," admitted McLeish."It is not totally confirmed yet but we are going to miss him for a long time. It’s a blow and, first and foremost, we wish the big fella a successful recovery."
Birmingham purchased cover in the summer window, bringing in Czech Republic central defender Martin Jiranek from Spartak Moscow. This weekend, however, McLeish elected to start Liam Ridgewell, the Blues' nominal left back, in the middle with Roger Johnson.
Dann has started 50 of Birmingham City's 59 league matches over the last two seasons, scoring two goals. In his absence, Jiranek or David Murphy - a key contributor during Birmingham City's 2008-09 promotion campaign - will be asked to help save the 16th place club from demotion.
The Blues are one point above the relegation zone but are still alive in both the FA and League Cups. In league, Birmingham City is at Manchester United this weekend before the second leg of their League Cup semifinal next week (against West Ham United). The following weekend, City takes on Millwall in the FA Cup's fourth round.