NK Maribor vs Birmingham City
Europa League Group H
Ljudski vrt stadium
Thursday, September 29th: 18:00
Maribor: Handanovic, Milec, Potokar, Arghus, Viler, Mezga, Lesjak, Mertelj, Cvijanovic, Tavares, Volas.
Subs: Pridigar, Crnic, Filipovic, Mejac, Ibraimi, Velikonja, Beric.
Birmingham: Doyle, Spector, Ibanez, Caldwell, Ridgewell, Burke, Fahey, Gomis, Beausejour, Elliott, King.
Subs: Myhill, Murphy, N'Daw, Rooney, Zigic, Redmond, Wood.
Captain Stephen Carr and fellow defender Curtis Davies will miss The Blues' second group game with knee injuries suffered during their draw with Barnsley.
Jonathan Spector could play at right-back, while Pablo Ibanez is ready to step in for Davies.
Youngsters Akwase Asante and Luke Hubbins have both been include in the squad by manager Chris Hughton.
Hughton welcomes Europa League distraction
Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton feels the club's jaunt in the Europa League is a welcome distraction from their troublesome league form.
The Blues' inability to win on the road sees them languishing in 19th in the Npower Championship, albeit having played two games less than all the teams around them due to their European commitments.
Hughton's side earned a draw against Barnsley last Sunday, breaking a streak of three successive defeats and ahead of the trip to Maribor, the boss is relishing a new challenge.
"I don't know whether the pressure is off in Europe, exactly, but there is a different feel around European games," he said.
"I think it's a welcome release from the pressure of the Championship games which come thick and fast.
"There was some question before about whether we need the number of games that this brings us. But you only have to witness the feel, the atmosphere, the way the players have gone about these European games and the crowd.
"They are all good reasons why we enjoy being in this competition. It's certainly different and certainly something we're very much welcoming."
Like Birmingham, beaten by last year's runners-up Braga, Maribor were defeated in their opening group game by Club Brugge, but showed their European pedigree earlier in the competition, knocking out Scottish champions Rangers in the play-off.
"I thought Maribor were particularly impressive in beating Rangers, a team we know very well," Hughton added. "To have beaten them shows the quality they have.
"This is an opportunity for us. We lost our first game in the group, a very tough game at home to Braga, and every game now is an opportunity to win or get something, and that will be our approach."
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms