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Gaz eyes Diamond sparkle for Battle of Britain

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

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DEFENSIVE general Zander Diamond faces an "Auld Enemy" return to action for Burton Albion on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Scot will take on former England striker James Beattie in the League Two clash with Accrington Stanley, kick-off 3pm.

Beattie, 34, has scored three times in four outings since joining Stanley as player-coach and poses an obvious threat to Albion's hopes of three points after successive League defeats to Aldershot Town and Wycombe Wanderers.

Beattie had a long top-flight career with the likes of Southampton and Everton.

But Brewers boss Gary Rowett has every confidence in Diamond's ability to pick up where he left off before missing last weekend's FA Cup triumph against Crewe Alexandra through suspension.

He said: "It will be interesting with James Beattie now at Accrington because he will be more of a focal point for them, but I think Zander is looking forward to the challenge.

"He has done more than enough in the games he has played to warrant coming straight back into the side.

"He's been a terrific player for us and a real character at the back there.

"What we've lacked over the last couple of years is someone who is real dominant centre-back aerially - and that is something Zander gives us.

"I think he's also good on the floor, which people sometimes don't realise, and it will be nice to have him back in the side."

Diamond's return is likely to mean a return to the bench for Aaron Webster, who filled in at Crewe, with Marcus Holness likely to keep his place despite Nathan Stanton's return to fitness after illness.

Other changes could see a recall for Billy Kee alongside top scorer Calvin Zola as Rowett reverts to a 4-4-2 formation, while Chris Palmer will be hoping to reclaim the right midfield slot following the recall by Sheffield United of loan signing Jordan Chapell.

Midfielders Jack Dyer and John McGrath both picked up knocks in Tuesday's Birmingham Senior Cup defeat but are expected to be fit.

However, Leicester City loan signing Jacob Blyth is doubtful because of a stomach muscle strain.

Rowett will be looking for the Brewers to revive their promotion challenge but insists he is not panicked by the recent loss of points.

He said: "If you look at the season, we started quite poorly in terms of points but did well in the Capital One Cup.

"It's funny as a manager because you understand that the cups are important for the team and also for the club, but at the same time it's the league form that you're most concerned about or want to do well.

"Then we picked up and I have to say we've done really, really well.

"We went into the Aldershot game needing a win to go up to third, then all of a sudden in the last couple of games we've come off it a little bit.

"You can argue certain circumstances. I could say the Aldershot game might have seen a bit of collective fatigue after the run of fixtures we'd had and Wycombe you could argue we were still in the game after playing quite well in the first half.

"We conceded to a poor goal when I think there might have been a foul in there and then the sending off of Zander changed it.

"If I look at those two games, there was not a lot wrong and we're certainly not going to come away from what we're trying to do and we're not going to panic.

"I think the key to management from what I can see, although I'm still relatively new to it, is that we've got a direction we want to go in and we're not going to be deterred by a run of wins or losses."

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