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Hughton braced for battle to keep Brum stars

New Birmingham manager Chris Hughton is resigned to the prospect of losing some of the club's star names this summer and plans to tackle arguably the biggest of his immediate issues in the coming days.

The former Newcastle boss was unveiled at St Andrew's yesterday afternoon following Wednesday's appointment, with the 52-year-old having signed a rolling contract.

Hughton spoke to owner Carson Yeung for the first time on Wednesday night and was handed the same remit of immediate promotion back to the Premier League as predecessor Alex McLeish, who stunned the city with his resignation 11 days ago and subsequent appointment at the Blues' bitter rivals Aston Villa.

Hughton has already spoken to acting chairman Peter Pannu privately regarding which players could be lost should the right bid come in and whether that money could then be reinvested.

Star names such as Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Ben Foster and Craig Gardner have already been linked with big-money moves back to the top flight, although it has been made clear no one will leave on the cheap.

Asked about the prospect of keeping those players, Hughton said: "I've had very good meetings and what I am aware of is that there are financial sides that have to be balanced.

He added: "In a perfect world, I'd like the best squad available, but there's a certain part of me that is resigned to the dynamic of the squad changing. There's a realisation of where we are after relegation. But it's important that any player leaving this club leaves within a calculation of how the club sees them."

Speculation has already been rife as to the make-up of Hughton's backroom staff and who will join him at St Andrew's.

Colin Calderwood, current manager of Hibernian, has been one name strongly linked after the pair worked together at St James' Park, although Hibs yesterday stressed they would not welcome any interest in his services in response to reports suggesting Nottingham Forest and new boss Steve McClaren were ready to make a move.

Hughton said: "That's another issue that certainly over the next few days I've got to speak to people about.

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"It's a very exciting prospect to be here and of course what will happen over the next few days and weeks is there will be changes and there will be philosophies that I would like to put onto the players that I have.

"But that takes time and that can't be done is in a day; my endeavours over the next few days are to put as many things in place as I can.

"All I can do is speak about the future, the desire that I have to have a team that is going to show that desire to want to get back into the Premier League."

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