Wolves and Birmingham contest FA Cup replay
Updated: January 16, 2012, 07:21
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LONDON(AP) Although Wolverhampton Wanderers could trade divisions with Birmingham at the end of the season, the relegation-threatened Premier League club will get a chance to put its local rival in its place when the teams meet in the FA Cup on Wednesday.
The central England sides are set to replay a third-round match at Molineux after a 0-0 draw on Jan. 7 and Birmingham are the form side.
While Wolves are just a point above the Premier League relegation zone, the Blues hover just outside the promotion playoff spots in the second-tier League Championship following a 6-0 win at Millwall at the weekend.
But Wolves showed they can still compete with in-form sides with a 1-1 draw at third-place Tottenham on Saturday and manager Mick McCarthy is looking for his team to carry that improved form into Wednesday's match.
"We have been harder to beat in recent weeks, without a doubt,'' McCarthy said. "We'd been tough and determined as we always are and we were well organized.
"I didn't want any more heroic failures.''
The chance for local bragging rights should mean neither side is complacent about a match that both might understandably place below league fixtures on their list of priorities, but McCarthy is still set to tinker with his lineup.
Steven Fletcher scored his ninth goal of the season at the weekend but is likely to be omitted on Wednesday.
"I did (rest Fletcher) last week against Birmingham amid much confusion about why I wasn't playing my best player,'' McCarthy said. "Well, I want him to play in the Premier League because it's paramount we have a player there who is on a run and is scoring goals.
"I didn't think having Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle against Birmingham was a downer anyway. Rest assured, Fletch will probably be getting a rest on Wednesday.''
Birmingham and its manager Chris Hughton are trying to get back into the Premier League and Wolves are fighting to stay there.
"It's nice to get a point at Arsenal and Spurs but ... we can't rest on our laurels with two good performances in North London,'' McCarthy said. "We need to do it in the West Midlands as well.''
Local pride will also play a big part in one of Tuesday's five third-round replays, with Leicester hosting Nottingham Forest following the East Midlands rivals' 0-0 draw.
Tensions already spilled over when 10 people were arrested at the original Jan. 7 meeting. Most were for public order offenses but police are also investigating reports of racist chants against fans of Leicester, a city with a large Asian population.
Both sides are laboring in the League Championship, with Leicester mired in mid-table and Forest in the relegation zone after a 3-0 defeat against leader Southampton. Forest has not scored in six home games, so hope a change of venue will bring a change of luck.
"It's frustrating as hell not scoring as many goals as we could score with the opportunities we create,'' Forest manager Steve Cotterill said. "It was like that before I came here and it's like that now.''
After losing his opening match 1-0 to Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday, Mark Hughes aims for his first win as manager of Queens Park Rangers when the London side hosts third-tier Milton Keynes Dons.
Struggling Millwall hosts Dagenham and Redbridge, Brighton visits Wrexham, and Premier League struggler Bolton is at home against lowly Macclesfield.
Bolton lost 3-0 to defending Premier League champion Manchester United on Saturday and is in the topflight relegation zone but manager Owen Coyle is hoping a game against fourth-tier opposition can provide a morale-boosting win.
"Our younger players are continuing to get better and that will stand us in good stead for the remainder of the season,'' Coyle said. "The courage that was displayed in the second half when we took the game to Manchester United showed that we have the belief that we can win games.''