Hughton needs backing not sales to keep Birmingham’s title hopes alive
Chris Hughton has already done a sterling job to keep Birmingham in the Championship promotion race after losing a handful of his top players over the summer, but things are about to get even tougher over the second half of the campaign.
Hughton replaced Alex McLeish in pre-season and had to watch as five of his top players decided to make a quick return to the Premier League.
Ben Foster, Scott Dann, Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner and Cameron Jerome may have fetched over £20m between them, but Hughton has been handed no more than a tenth of this sum to spend.
However, Hughton may have to get busy in the loan market and seeking out cut-price deals again in the next week if he wants Birmingham to continue to push for a top-six finish.
Jean Beausejour is the next player off to the Premier League, with Wigan having a deal of around £3m accepted and there are additional rumours that Hughton may also struggle to fend off interest from West Brom for Liam Ridgewell and an unnamed club for Curtis Davies.
Losing this trio of players will be a big blow and leave Hughton feeling like he has an insurmountable task in helping Birmingham make an immediate return to the top flight.
The only real news on any players arriving at St Andrew’s is the possibility of raw non-league striker Tyrell Waite being handed a short-term deal.
Victory in their game in hand would lift Birmingham to fourth in the Championship table, their highest league position of the season and Hughton arguably needs backing to continue this progress, rather than having more first-team players allowed to leave the club.
If some financial backing is provided by Birmingham International Holdings, there is even an outside chance that Birmingham could be considered title contenders.
They remain unbeaten at home this season and fellow promotion pushers Southampton, Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Hull still have to visit St Andrew’s.
Birmingham’s odds are currently 12/1 to win the Championship and they have ten points to make up on leaders West Ham.