Birmingham v Chelsea preview
Di Matteo hoping to prevail in battle of the Blues
Last Updated: 06/03/12 7:13pm
Roberto Di Matteo: Hoping to guide Chelsea into the FA Cup quarter-finals
Chelsea's first outing since taking the decision to part with Andre Villas-Boas sees them travel to Birmingham for an FA Cup fifth round replay.
The Premier League heavyweights feel a fresh approach is required following a string of disappointing results - including a 1-1 draw with Birmingham at Stamford Bridge.
Villas-Boas paid the price for the club's recent failings and first team coach Roberto Di Matteo has been placed in temporary charge of the side.
His first task will be to guide Chelsea into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and book a home date with Leicester in the last eight.
Birmingham will be a tough nut to crack, though, as they have suffered just one defeat on home soil in the Championship this season.
Chris Hughton's side will consider promotion back to the Premier League to be their priority this season, but a money-spinning cup run would also be most welcome.
All of those still involved in the competition know they are edging closer to Wembley, with the semi-finals and final set to be staged at the home of English football.
Success for Chelsea would allow them to salvage something from a forgettable campaign, and whoever inherits their managerial reins will make cup glory a top target.
Birmingham have already seen second tier rivals Cardiff grace one cup showpiece this season, though, and will be determined to pile more pressure on Chelsea when they welcome their fellow Blues to St Andrew's on Tuesday.
Birmingham are facing a player shortage ahead of the game, with eight senior members of their squad either cup-tied or injured.
Defenders Stephen Carr (knee), Steve Caldwell (ribs) and David Murphy (hip) are out, Peter Ramage is cup-tied while Curtis Davies is doubtful through illness.
Pablo Ibanez is the only fit centre-half.
In addition, midfielders Andros Townsend (cup-tied) and Keith Fahey (groin) are unavailable.
Strikers Erik Huseklepp (cup-tied) and Caleb Folan (ineligible) also cannot play.
Ashley Cole is a doubt for Di Matteo's first match in charge of Chelsea.
Cole hobbled out of Villas-Boas' last match at the helm at West Brom on Saturday with an ankle injury and will be assessed before the trip to the Midlands.
Jose Bosingwa (hamstring) and Ross Turnbull (ankle) are both definitely out, along with captain John Terry (knee).