Birmingham City manager Garry Monk says his team will have to overcome “unusual circumstances” in Saturday’s derby at the city’s Allianz Stadium, but he insists the result is still a point-blank draw.

The Blues have won only one of their past three matches, all at home, against Sheffield United.

But Monk has been encouraged by the performance of young defender Joe Garner, who has scored a brace in his last two appearances.

“It’s very, very, positive.

He’s playing the best football of his career,” Monk said.

And he added: “Joe Garner is very, highly rated by the coaching staff and he’s playing well.”

Aston Villa manager Tony Pulis said the fixture was a game which was “not easy”.

“We’re not going to get the results that we need in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we get back to winning ways.””

I think if we keep playing as well as we have been playing, then we’ll be able to get results in the second half of the season.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we get back to winning ways.”