By Amir Mir

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has admitted following Aston Villa’s results as a youngster but stated he never went to Villa Park.

The second City derby kicks off at high noon on Sunday, with both teams looking to earn the first bragging rights of the season.

Former defender Rowett, who played for the Blues between 1998-00, will face Villa for the second time as manager.

The 42-year-old last faced the Villans in the 2015/16 season, when then-claret & blue boss Tim Sherwood recorded a 1-0 win in the League Cup over their bitter rivals.

But, subsequently the Midlands giants have been relegated to the second-tier, with Rowett having to clear up whether he supported Villa as a youngster, with the derby on the horizon.

“No, as a kid I had plenty of teams that I liked and they [Villa] were one of the teams,” said Rowett, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail. “I openly admitted when I came here that I followed some of their results but hadn’t actually gone to Villa Park as a kid.

“Then when you are 16 and join teams and you have a profession, you don’t really look at the results of any team.

“Having played at St Andrew’s for two years and been here as a manager for two years, I would like to think people will understand that I am thoroughly Blue – and a Birmingham City fan.”

Villa are managed by former Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce, who orchestrated two promotions to the Premier League during his six-year tenure with the St Andrews club.

He is unbeaten in his first three games since being appointed manager by club chiefs, winning back-to-back games against Reading and Fulham.

But he now takes on a Blues side who are one place below a play-off spot on 23 points, with Villa in 16 positon on 17 points.

In other Aston Villa team news, Robbie Neilson has provided a response to the Midlands club following their pursuit to sign this defender.