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Hughton: Blues up for Cup defence at City

BIRMINGHAM'S Carling Cup defence may not be at the top of the club's list of priorities this season but they will not give up their title without a fight, according to manager Chris Hughton.

The Blues face a daunting trip to free-spending Manchester City in the third round tonight as they start out on the road to the trophy they memorably clinched by beating Arsenal 2-1 at Wembley in February.

Much has happened since that day in London – the Blues have been relegated to the Championship, manager Alex McLeish crossed to join

city rivals Aston Villa and the club’s financial difficulties have been well documented. And Hughton insists Birmingham's cup exploits this term – including their Europa League campaign, which comes as a direct result of last season's cup success – nestle behind their promotion charge.

“Our main priority is the Championship and doing as well as we can in that, but we know what the cup competitions mean to the club and the supporters,” Hughton said.

“It's impossible to go into any game and not want to win it, whatever problems that can cause regarding fixtures. I don't think there's any game you can go into and not want to win.”

He added: “We don't want to relinquish the trophy lightly, it will be a tough ask going there (to Manchester City), but it's impossible to not look forward to the challenge.”

Hughton insists the decision not to include the Carling Cup in Birmingham's pre-season team photo was due to the desire for “a fresh start”.

Birmingham's current fortunes are in stark contrast to that of Manchester City, whose spending power has catapulted them into a football force.

Boss Roberto Mancini is set to rotate his ranks for tonight's tie, and that means handing a debut to Owen Hargreaves, while the likes of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Kolo Toure and Adam Johnson could also start.