Why Birmingham City's Italian loanee can make difference against Rotherham

Loanee Diego Fabbrini is likely to be the key to Birmingham City winning at home on Friday.

While Birmingham City have virtually nothing to play for this season, their opponents Rotherham United know a victory would help ensure their own survival in the Championship – a scenario which actually benefits Gary Rowett's men.

While the Blues have endured a mediocre run of form immediately prior to the international break, they have done well in the main since Rowett took over playing a pacy counter-attacking formation that has exploited gaps in defences with pace on and off the ball.

Indeed, Rowett's men have struggled most when they have had the lions percentage of possession in the middle of the park and they are forced to break down teams in the middle of the park.

Starlet Demarai Gray has used his blistering pace to devastating effect at times this season on the left wing but has found the going much tougher when faced with a full back in front of him rather than trailing in his wake.

Likewise, Scottish attacking midfielder Andrew Shinnie has excelled playing in the “hole” position when he has had time and space to create but has been largely anonymous when teams have had players mark him out of the game – much as John Eustace did in Derby County's 4-0 win at St Andrews.

Rotherham know that losing could see Wigan close the gap between the two teams to just two points – making relegation a very real possibility and as such will have to come to Birmingham City looking to take a point at bare minimum, if not all three.

With new loanee Diego Fabbrini likely to make his debut, Blues could very well start the game inviting Rotherham onto them to create space between the midfield and defence for the Italian to exploit with his pace, guile and trickery.

Should Steve Evans decide to try to hold out for the draw, the onus would very much be on Fabbrini to unlock the defence in the same manner he did for Millwall when the South London side visited St Andrew's in February.

Although Blues are 15th in the table, Rowett has made it abundantly clear he wants his charges to aim to win every single one of their remaining eight games regardless of the lack of anything being at stake.

Do you think Fabbrini can make the difference?

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch