CD Nacional v Birmingham preview
Birmingham begin their Europa League adventure with the first leg of their qualifying round clash against CD Nacional.
Last Updated: 18/08/11 11:23am
Birmingham begin their Europa League adventure with the first leg of their qualifying round clash against CD Nacional on the island of Madeira.
Blues booked their place in Europe's secondary contest with victory in the Carling Cup final over Arsenal back in February.
But any joy garnered from lifting silverware and taking their place in the continental competition was swiftly tempered by relegation from the Premier League in May.
Manager Alex McLeish and a number of key players have since departed with Chris Hughton now at the helm with the stated aim of securing an immediate return to the top flight.
Jordon Mutch is still awaiting news on the seriousness of his ankle injury, while Hughton has promised to make changes to his side.
The talented young midfielder is still awaiting results of an X-ray having gone over in training on Tuesday but it has already confirmed he will be missing for "some period of time", amid fears he may have broken a bone.
Hughton continues to do battle without key strike trio Cameron Jerome (heel), Nikola Zigic (groin) and Marlon King (knee), none of whom have boarded the plane bound for the Portuguese island.
Among Blues' 20-man squad is sought-after centre-back Scott Dann, who has been an unused substitute in both of Blues' Championship matches to date.
Hughton is trying to balance European progress with a Championship promotion bid, and he told the club's official website: "I will certainly be making some changes but not wholesale ones.
"We have got four games in two weeks and what we've got to do is try and utilise the players we've got over that period of time. Unfortunately for me the depth of the squad is not that big but I have to use the squad."
Nacional have played just one game in their domestic league this season, playing out a 0-0 draw away to Feirense on Sunday.
Ivo Vieira's side have already come through the second qualifying round to reach this stage, securing a 3-1 aggregate victory over FH Hafnarfjordur of Iceland, with a 1-1 away draw followed by a 2-0 home success in July.