Big Eck demands Blues ‘bottle’

McLeish is hoping the two-week international break has recharged

the batteries of his squad for the final nine games of the

campaign. City caused a major upset when they overcame Arsenal 2-1

at Wembley just over a month ago. But since then they have taken

one point from three games and slipped into the bottom three ahead

of Saturday’s home encounter with Bolton. McLeish admits a

combination of experience and showing “bottle” will be vital in the

final two months of the campaign. He said: “There is no doubt the

break gave respite to some players who were ready to explode, ready

to implode. “Some players have been running on empty over the past

few weeks. “Others like Roger Johnson have been hanging by a thread

over the past few weeks with various different injuries. “I would

like to think these guys are refreshed and ready for the battle.”

McLeish added: “It is now about experienced guys who have got the

bottle to handle pressure situations. “We are going to try and get

back to the form that saw us storm into the Carling Cup final.

“We’ve got to get back to the type of commitment and tempo that has

earned the plaudits for the team.” McLeish is also trying to relax

his players after admitting he sensed they were tense during the

last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Wigan a fortnight ago. He said: “I noticed

a sense of tension throughout the game and that is what I’ve got to

try and put right. “It is difficult to get into players’ minds and

difficult to control emotions. “But I can only try and help them

with words and try and reassure them with the evidence and the past

experiences, the proven victories they’ve had, that can reinforce

their confidence.” Central defender Martin Jiranek is doubtful

after undergoing a minor toe operation but midfielder Lee Bowyer

and striker Nikola Zigic are back in contention after hamstring and

groin problems. Bowyer has resumed training while Zigic played for

Serbia in midweek.