Coyle wants more of the same

The prize for a Bolton victory would be a first FA Cup semi-final

appearance in 10 years, while Birmingham are looking to book a

return trip to Wembley only two weeks after beating Arsenal in the

Carling Cup final. For Coyle, the match will also allow him to pit

his wits against a man who was one of his managerial inspirations

when he played under now Birmingham boss Alex McLeish at Motherwell

in the late 1990s. Bolton certainly go into the clash as the

in-form side having won four of their last five matches while their

opponents are caught up in a battle to avoid relegation. Coyle

said: “The performances and the results have been of a high

standard, and that’s what we need on Saturday again. We’re playing

against a very good side. “It was a magnificent achievement for

Birmingham to win the Carling Cup and they’re coming off a great

draw at Everton. “We know their qualities and they’re led by a man

I know very well, someone I was very fortunate to play under and

learned a lot from.” Two players who will definitely play no part

in Saturday’s match are Zat Knight and Ricardo Gardner, who have

both been sidelined by knee injuries this season. Knight damaged

ligaments last month and is not expected to return until the end of

March at the earliest, but Coyle has been encouraged by his

progress. The Scot added: “He’s still a number of weeks away from

any involvement with the first-team squad but it’s great to see him

out on the grass and doing some light jogging.” Long-serving winger

Gardner has only just returned to full fitness after fourth months

out and this week joined Preston, who are managed by former Bolton

assistant manager Phil Brown, on a month-long loan deal. “Phil

Brown has been on for the last month about getting him on loan,”

said Coyle. “Ultimately I left the decision to Ricardo, if he felt

he was at the stage he could get games in the Championship to

further improve his fitness and his physical condition, and that’s

what he felt. “So he’s gone for a month with a view to getting

fitter and stronger and then he’ll come back to Bolton to fight for

his place.” Ivan Klasnic has fired Bolton into the FA Cup

quarter-finals with winners in the last two rounds against Wigan

and Fulham, but even the Croatian is not guaranteed a starting spot

on Sunday. Coyle said: “He’s put himself in contention, as have the

other 18 players. Regardless of who scores the goals for us, it’s

very much a team effort and they’re all buying into that. “Ivan’s

done fantastic, not only on Saturday but also scoring the winning

goals at Wigan and Fulham, so he’s certainly done himself no harm.

He’s looking 100 per cent fit, he’s looking sharp and we know he’s

a terrific goalscorer. “I’m always looking to pick the best team

possible. Daniel Sturridge is cup-tied so there’ll certainly be a

minimum of one change. There may very well be a few more on top of

that.”