Rowett: 'There's an opportunity to be a hero'

Birmingham City interim manager Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett wants his Birmingham City players to take inspiration from previous relegation escapes in their season finale on Saturday [Getty Images]

Birmingham City interim manager Gary Rowett has called on his players to take the opportunity to be a hero in their relegation decider with Norwich City at St Andrew's on Saturday.

The Blues are 22nd in the Championship and must win and hope Plymouth Argyle, who are one place and point above them, fail to beat Hull City at Home Park to avoid playing in League One next season.

Rowett said the time to analyse their season is later and wants his players to take inspiration from previous escapes.

"It is something as a club that we have to understand," he said. "It has happened too often. We are where we are on the last day of the season.

"Lessons can be learnt at a later stage. Now it is about getting the result and staying in the division. It is clear what we have to achieve and how we will do it; with incredible energy and maybe some patience as well."

Rowett namechecked Paul Caddis, the Scottish defender whose injury-time header at Bolton Wanderers a decade ago secured Championship survival for Birmingham on the final day.

"There's an opportunity to be a Paul Caddis or whatever name you want to put on it; some of these moments have created great memories. We need to control the controllables and we'll accept it if we've done our bit."

Blues’ last-day escapes

Aside from successive top 10 finishes under Rowett in 2015 and 2016, most of Blues’ time in the second tier has been a struggle.

Three times they have taken until the final day to secure survival – and their longest-serving player Lukas Jutkiewicz was involved in all three:

2014: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blues

Second-half goals from Bolton duo Lee Chung-yong and Jutkiewicz looked to have relegated Blues, who still trailed 2-0 with 12 minutes left.

But Nikola Zigic’s 78th-minute header gave them hope before Caddis headed a 93rd-minute equaliser in a mad scramble after two efforts had been blocked on the line to send Doncaster Rovers down instead.

2017: Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham

Jutkiewicz was in a Blues shirt this time, setting up the only goal for Che Adams as manager Harry Redknapp worked his magic with a 1-0 win at Bristol City.

Blues had to win to be sure of staying up but they ended up three points clear of Blackburn Rovers who went down instead, although Nottingham Forest and Burton Albion also finished below Blues.

2018: Blues 3-1 Fulham

Results elsewhere meant that Blues’ 3-1 home win under Garry Monk over Fulham was superfluous.

But Jutkiewicz, skipper Harlee Dean and Adams got the job done anyway.