Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce has defended the decision to change his entire team for Wednesday's Carling Cup tie with Blackburn.

Ten of the team who battled so manfully to draw 0-0 with Liverpool on Saturday were rested, while Spanish midfielder Oubina was already sidelined after having his season written off with a knee injury.

Bruce made it clear that he preferred to save his first-choice players for tomorrow evening's visit of Manchester United. That effectively allowed Rovers a free passage to round four and Bruce is now looking to his team to go out and show it was all worth it by getting another league result this weekend.

"I had to take a more long-term view," he said. "I had a team who had run a million miles against Liverpool and now we've got Man United coming up.

"The Premier League is of huge importance to us and I thought, 'If I put out the team I've got on my mind to play on Saturday, it's a big ask for them to play Liverpool away, Blackburn away and then take on United.'

"I've always said to win a cup is the ultimate for any Birmingham manager, but I just felt that people needed a game and I still thought we'd have been good enough.

"I still expected us to put up a better performance. After all, we had three of the back four who won us promotion but it was pretty evident that some of them needed the game, because we were second-best all evening.

"In hindsight, it was glaringly obvious that they hadn't had enough match practice. That's what happens when you put so many in who have just come back, like Damien Johnson, Daniel de Ridder and Martin Taylor, who have all been out injured.

"When you have big squads like we all have to carry now, you have to play these players and you can have play as many reserve-team games and do as much training as you like but when the real ball comes out, it's a different animal.

Towards the end, you could see that four or five of them were really flagging and I just hope that the ones I left out are now fresh for Saturday."

One man unlikely to be ready is Richard Kingson, who has edged ahead of Colin Doyle as stand-in goalkeeper and looked capable of pushing Maik Taylor as the No 1, judged by his first-half form at Ewood Park.

Then after a sickening collision with a goalpost, the Ghanaian collapsed and had to be stretchered off with a head injury. However, Kingson still travelled home on the team coach after a precautionary trip to hospital.

"He was a little bit dazed and confused, which is understandable but he had all the relevant tests," said Bruce.

Whether Kingson is fit for bench duty tomorrow depends on the interpretation of the injury, given that instances of concussion carry an automatic fortnight's rest. But, coming on top of Saturday's loss of Oubina, Bruce was relieved not to lose another body, just when he had been able to boast a fully fit squad.

"Nobody wants to see injuries like that," said Bruce. "We had a horrible one with Oubina and I just hope it's not like two or three years ago, when we'd got five or six with serious injuries.

"I'm just relieved that he is absolutely fine and I was delighted with him again before the injury. He looks the part. He's done exactly what I wanted him to and put Doyle and Taylor on their toes."