Birmingham manager Chris Hughton wary of threat posed by Blackpool's Stephen Dobbie


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The Independent Football

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton knows all about the threat of Stephen Dobbie ahead of tonight's play-off semi-final first leg away to Blackpool.

Hughton tried to lure the Scottish forward to St Andrew's at the end of the January transfer window but parent club Swansea were unwilling to let him leave at that moment in time.

That stance changed on the final day of the emergency loan window in March and Dobbie was allowed to go in search of regular first-team football, joining Blackpool on a deal until the end of the season.

Since then the 29-year-old, who helped the Seasiders to play-off glory during a similar spell two years ago, has not looked back, scoring five goals in seven games.

Hughton said: "Stephen is one we were trying to bring in and weren't able to, and of course Blackpool have benefited from that.

"At the time when I was looking to bring him in, Swansea didn't want to let him go. It was quite a late decision by them in that loan window that they eventually then decided to let him go."

Birmingham fans will be well aware of another two of Blackpool's most influential names, with 17-goal leading scorer Kevin Phillips and skipper Barry Ferguson swapping the midlands for the north-west last summer.

It promises to be a thrilling encounter at Bloomfield Road, with Blues boasting home advantage in the second leg next Wednesday.

But Hughton does not believe that will count for much in this year's npower Championship play-offs.

He said: "I don't see an advantage (from having the second leg at home), not this season anyway, with the abilities of the teams in this division to win away from home.

"Blackpool are a prime example, there are some strong teams - West Ham and the record they've got away from home. Blackpool can score goals at will, score late goals and are capable of being brave and making the changes they need to win football matches.

"I think this season more than any other season, I don't see it as a major advantage.

"It's about going into the two games and playing them as they are, which are one-off games. Trying to come away from the first game with a favourable result, taking that into the second leg and hopefully doing well enough to go through."