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Bruce calls for cool heads in derby.

Byline: Evening Gazette

Steve Bruce is urging Birmingham City and Aston Villa players and supporters to help restore football's battered image by ensuring a trouble-free derby on and off the field at St Andrews tomorrow.

Bruce is aware of the way that the game has been tarnished by a series of high-profile incidents involving leading Premiership players in recent weeks.

And last season crowd trouble marred the two Second City derbies while the Villa duo of Dion Dublin and Joey Gudjohnsen were sent off in the home encounter with Birmingham in March.

Bruce said: "The spotlight will be on the two clubs and the two sets of supporters and it is vital after what happened last year, and the way football has taken a battering over the last couple of weeks, that things go off with no trouble.

"Let everyone get behind their team and remember everyone is watching us. Last time there were some ugly scenes and lets hope there is no repeat of that.

"All of us have a responsibility and we don't want to see last year's events again. We won the two games but everyone was just talking about what went on around the stadium.

"It should be a magnificent atmosphere but let's have a bit of respect. Let's make sure it goes off without any trouble."

Bruce is looking for his side to maintain their new found dominance over Villa, who for years have been the undisputed leading club in the Midlands.

He said: "We have made massive strides over the past 12 months and the fact that David O'Leary says we are the favourites shows how much we have progressed.

"We were the top club in the Midlands last year and that's got to be our aim again."

Blues' Robbie Savage has declared himself fit while Ian Bennett will take over in goal from summer signing Maik Taylor, who is banned.

For Villa, Ronny Johnsen has recovered from a hamstring injury and will replace Alpay - given time off to spend with his family after the furore surrounding last weekend's Turkey v England clash - while Thomas Sorensen has shaken off a back problem. Darius Vassell will partner Juan Pablo Angel up front.

Tomorrow's Sky Sports 1 clash features Southampton's trip to Everton (4.05pm KO) while Leicester's home clash with Spurs is on Sky Premiership Plus (2pm KO).
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Title Annotation:Sport Football
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 18, 2003
Words:393
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