Hughton and co relish European test

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Birmingham manager Chris Hughton claims his team will need little motivation as European football returns to St Andrew's for the first time in 50 years on Thursday.

After a disappointing start to the new npower Championship campaign, there is a feeling the Europa League could hinder Hughton's promotion ambitions, but the Carling Cup winners remain keen to make the most of a rare opportunity to face continental opposition and have slashed ticket prices to ensure a full house for the visit of Portuguese side Nacional.

Hughton said: "The fans are certainly looking forward to it, that will show in the numbers that turn up. That is testament to the support we have and the competition."

He added: "It is an exciting competition and something the club haven't experienced for a while. The support will get behind us but we have got to give them something to cheer about.

Blues hit the woodwork three times in a goalless draw in Madeira in the first leg of the qualifying tie last week and will progress to the group stage with a victory, which would guarantee at least another three European visitors to St Andrew's.

He added: "We have got to make sure we do the business. After a disappointment you have to get the team together and I think the nature of this match does that for us."

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