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Birmingham are set to enter their 11th successive season in the Championship, having failed to bounce back to the Premier League since being relegated in 2011.

The Blues have arguably been fortunate to remain in the second tier given that they have not finished any higher than 17th in any of the last five seasons, but there is a more optimistic vibe around the club with former player Lee Bowyer at the helm.

The 44-year-old left Charlton Athletic to join the club in March, winning half of his ten league games in charge so far to guide the club away from danger last season.

It is still early days for Bowyer, but a comfortable victory against League One outfit Cheltenham on Saturday was a good start to the summer for his side, with a clear emphasis on retaining possession in deeper areas likely to take time to perfect in the coming months.

Barrow, meanwhile, narrowly secured safety in their first campaign in the Football League in 48 years last season, with three different managers ultimately guiding them across the line.

It was always likely to be a tough season for the Bluebirds at a higher level, particularly after Ian Evatt surprisingly departed the club for Bolton Wanderers despite guiding them to promotion from the National League.

Former Birmingham midfielder David Dunn was chosen as Evatt’s replacement but won only two of his 22 games in charge before being sacked in December last year, with Michael Jolley also sacked two months later after only winning one of his seven games at the club

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Ultimately, the club owe Rob Kelly a huge debt in terms of their safety, with the 56-year-old interim manger winning 10 of his 22 games overall after the two permanent men in charge had been relieved of their duties.

However, Kelly has since departed to join Wigan Athletic as an assistant manager, with former Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper now at the helm.

The 7-1 win against local non-league side Holker Old Boys will have boosted confidence among his attackers, but Tuesday’s test against Birmingham will be a far better indication of the level his players are currently at.

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