Steve Cotterill: Birmingham City boss proud of effort in Huddersfield FA Cup defeat
Birmingham City manager Steve Cotterill was really proud of Blues' spirit in their FA Cup fourth-round replay extra-time loss to Huddersfield Town.
Blues ended up on the wrong end of their heaviest defeat since Cotterill took charge in September, conceding three goals in 12 minutes in extra time to lose 4-1 to Premier League Town.
But Cotterill was still happy with the performance from his much-changed team.
"We coped for 90 minutes. We didn't cope after that," he told BBC WM.
"They were too much for us in extra time. My players had given their all for 90 minutes. Extra time was painful for the lads. Your heart's breaking for them.
"But we could have done without extra time. It was a real body blow for our lads. Some of them were dead on their feet."
Admittedly, Blues were only kept in the tie in normal time because of a string of outstanding second-half saves from goalkeeper David Stockdale as Huddersfield took control.
But Cotterill was still pleased with his side's effort, adding: "Because the scoreline is so big you think it's worse than what it is. But it actually isn't.
"Looking at that dressing room after, it's actually my proudest time since I've been at the football club. The effort, spirit and energy was first class. They've run themselves into the ground. I've got no complaints.
"We've had 11 games in 46 days - a game every four days. It was one game too many. If you're tired, eventually you'll go to sleep.
"And they were just better than us. Huddersfield have improved on the back of last year. That was a Premier League starting XI they put out. No weaknesses."
Blues will 'go again' at Villa on Sunday
Blues' extra-time defeat ended their four-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
But they will go into Sunday's derby at local rivals Aston Villa on the back of some much-improved results in the Championship - a run that has brought just one defeat in seven games and a climb to 19th in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone.
Having made seven changes to his starting line-up against Huddersfield, Cotterill also has the option of bringing back most of those players, chiefly midfield men Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Davis, who were left out as a precaution as both have accumulated nine bookings this season and one more would trigger a two-match suspension.
"One thing we'll take into the derby game is fresher legs," said Cotterill.
"We've just got to take the pain on this one, rest and recuperate and be ready to go for the weekend. And we've got a bit of breathing space before that.
"It doesn't matter who's favourites. It's irrelevant. David Stockdale has proved again he's a top keeper. And I'm confident in our team, as we've been playing well."
One man missing for Sunday's game, however, is left-back Jonathan Grounds, who will see a specialist on Thursday over the medial knee ligament injury he suffered in Saturday's 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
"We'll have a better idea then of a diagnosis," added Cotterill.