BIRMINGHAM are ready to hand Lee Clark a route back into management.
And that means Town will go head to head with their former boss in the Championship next season.
The sides will meet at St Andrews on Saturday, October 6 and the Galpharm on Saturday, January 12.
Town chairman Dean Hoyle axed the 39-year-old in February, then brought in Simon Grayson, who led the club to last month’s League I promotion play-off final win over Sheffield United at Wembley.
Clark, handed his first managerial post by Hoyle in December 2009, had twice led Town to the play-offs, with the two-legged semi-final defeat by Millwall in 2010 followed by the 3-0 final loss to Peterborough at Old Trafford in 2011.
His reign also featured a Football League record 43-match unbeaten run.
Now the former Newcastle reserve coach and Norwich assistant manager will succeed Chris Hughton at the West Midlands club, who are preparing for their second season in the second tier after relegation from the Premier League in 2011.
Hughton led them to the play-offs before taking over at Norwich following Paul Lambert’s move to Birmingham’s city rivals Aston Villa.
Clark, who played for Newcastle (two spells), Sunderland and Fulham, has beaten off competition from Alan Curbishley, Roy Keane and Phil Brown to land the job after impressing Birmingham’s acting chairman Peter Pannu over two rounds of talks.
Clark is expected to sign a rolling contract, with former Town assistant manager Terry McDermott and development coach Steve Watson likely to join him.