MARK Venus says Tony Mowbray is making good progress in his recovery from illness - and admits the manager's return can't come soon enough for struggling Birmingham City.

The Blues are winless in five since Mowbray was forced to step away and assistant boss Venus was brutally honest in his assessment of the defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, admitting City lack leaders and attacking quality.

As much as Venus is "giving it his best shot", he admits Birmingham need former Boro and Sunderland boss Mowbray back in the dugout and is hoping that will be sooner rather than later.

"He's making good progress and we can't get him back quick enough," said Venus.

"He's making good progress and hopefully he'll be back in the future. There's no timeframe.

"I'm not sure how to describe it but we've missed him immensely, enormously. He is a leader and a motivator and a driver. I think undoubtedly when you have someone like that at the front, you miss him. I'm giving it my best shot."


Riley McGree's first half goal secured Boro their third successive win on Tuesday night and moved Michael Carrick's side to within five points of the top six.

The second half was something of a non-event and although Birmingham improved, they struggled to create chances and didn't manage a single shot on target all night.

Venus said: "It was a poor game all-round. We were very static in the first half, we didn't take the game to Middlesbrough. They scored a good goal. In the second half we took the game more to them but I'd have to say there was a distinct lack of quality from our players.

"We concede the goal, it was a great strike, but we lost the ball. We had enough of the ball in the second half to have created more.

"That has to be a concern, if you can't create chances and score goals, you can't win games. We have to address it very quickly. We all have to address the lack of quality. We have to get better.

"We've spoken about leaders since we came in, we haven't got enough but we have to work with where we are and what we've got and we have to do better. We have to get through this.

"There's pressure on every game. We all get paid to deal with pressure. We've got ourselves in this position and we have to get out of it."