Hughton hunting for Irish talent

NEW Birmingham City boss Chris Hughton has admitted the Airtricity League is on his radar in terms of identifying new recruits.

Hughton, who takes charge of his first game tomorrow evening as Birmingham play Cork City in a friendly at Turner’s Cross, has lost Roger Johnson, Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner, Lee Bowyer, Kevin Phillips and Stuart Parnaby since the end of last season. The former Newcastle boss is therefore on the lookout for new additions and intends to look close to home.

“I think you have to, when you look at the players that have come from the league,” he said.

“There are a lot of examples of players that have gone to England, come back home and had an opportunity to go again. Some clubs have been very successful, look at Reading, and there are certainly enough good players here that deserve an opportunity.”

In recent years, Roy Keane-managed sides have brought players back with them following friendlies against Cork City, Roy O’Donovan joining Sunderland while Colin Healy signed for Ipswich Town, and Hughton admits that scenario is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

“Well, if the performance is good enough on Saturday,” he said.

“There have been a lot of good players from the area, I think that’s something that will continue, we’ll wait and see how the game goes on Saturday.”

An Irish player already at St Andrew’s is midfielder Keith Fahey, and Hughton expects him to take more responsibility in the Championship for the coming season as a result of the numerous departures.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “We have lost some very influential players and whenever that happens, you’re looking for players to step up. We are playing in a different league and I think what comes with that is opportunities for some. It will be a tough and demanding league.”

The Blues are based at Fota Island Resort for their time in Ireland.

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