Hughton wants promotion over Europe

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New Birmingham boss Chris Hughton insists clinching immediate promotion back to the Barclays Premier League next season will take precedence over a UEFA Europa League adventure.

Hughton has been handed the same remit as former boss Alex McLeish after Blues' relegation from the top flight last month - lead the club back at the first attempt. Following Birmingham's Carling Cup success, the 52-year-old also has the unusual added element of European football to contend with amid a tough 46-match npower Championship campaign.

"I don't think I'd be speaking too out of place if I was to say, for me, that (Europe) is not the biggest priority," he said.


"It's something which is very welcome and it gives players an opportunity to play at European level. But I don't think it would be wrong of me to say that it isn't the most important priority for me. The most important one is to get this group of lads together and give this Championship a real good go."

He added: "Our approach will be to do as well as we can in the competition (Europa League). It is a different stage and does open players to a different audience, that audience becomes bigger the further you go in the competition. Anything which promotes this club is a plus."

Hughton certainly has experience of taking the Championship by storm, racking up 102 points with Newcastle to walk away with the second-tier title in 2010. He then guided the Magpies to mid-table in the Premier League before, in the eyes of most, being harshly sacked last December.

Hughton admits there are similarities between the task he is charged with at Blues and the one he completed at St James` Park, something which will stand him in good stead.

"We know it will be a tough task - the quality of this division in particular this season," he added. "But I've come here and what I want to see is a team that's able to challenge.

"It will be a tough season and I know that because of the quality in this division, and for me sitting here there will be a lot of other managers who will be saying exactly the same to their boards and their players.

"But yes, of course, the ultimate aim is to get back into the Premier League and the job starts now."

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