Birmingham City make the first of two trips to Ewood Park inside ten days tonight with two untried teenagers in their squad.

The inclusion of Academy players Krystian Pearce and Jordan Mutch says everything about the importance of tonight's Carling Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers compared with the meeting of the two sides in the Premier League on the same ground on Saturday week.

It certainly makes for a memorable few days for 17-year-old Pearce, a towering defender who starred for England in this summer's Under-17 World Cup and only last week skipped an age group for his country when he was called up for the England Under-19s.

He now faces three Under-19 European Championship qualifiers inside six days, against Iceland (Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster), Romania (Glanford Park, Scunthorpe) and Belgium (Oakwell, Barnsley) in the middle of next month.

While 15-year-old midfielder Mutch is surely along only for the ride tonight, the match at Ewood is an ideal chance to take a quick peek at Pearce, the one young player on Blues' staff most likely to confound manager Steve Bruce's assertion that his club are still not producing enough talent.

But, on a night when Blackburn boss Mark Hughes is also expected to do a fair bit of tinkering with his team, Blues No 2 Eric Black leaves no one in any doubt as to what the priority is during the next ten days.

"There has to be a bit of common sense there," Black said. "The most important thing is to stay in the Premier League.

"I'm sure every team will go into the Carling Cup thinking they can win it. But it is the balance between that and the importance of the league.

"What you will find, once you get to the quarter-finals and semi-finals, the big teams will play their best players because it is a great opportunity for silverware. You can try to progress but ultimately you are going to come up against the top four in the division.

"That's the balance. We want to give the best we can but ultimately for us there is no point in being relegated and winning the League Cup.

"That will be the difficult factor. I'm pretty sure Blackburn will change one or two too.

"It depends on the depth and strength of your squad and how Mark Hughes decides to approach it.

"I certainly don't see it as the team who started against Portsmouth on Sunday."

After going 15 games without defeat between last season's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea and Jose Mourinho's last league game in charge 11 days ago, Rovers will be more than anxious to get back on the rails after losing in Greece in the Uefa Cup to lowly Larissa last Thursday, then going down at home to Pompey.

For that reason, Hughes, who watched Blues defend impressively at Anfield on Saturday, is likely to ring the changes, which are expected to mean leaving out both of his two Blues old boys Robbie Savage and David Dunn.

But there could be a reunion tonight if Rovers old boys Martin Taylor and Damien Johnson, fit again after hamstring trouble, figure.

"I think it will be a strong team," Black said. "We now have 24 outfield players in the first-team squad and three keepers. And Jonty will hopefully play a part in the game.

"He is not far away. He has played in the reserves and trained exceptionally hard over the weekend and he is in the squad on merit. And it won't be an under-strength team.

"There will be first-team players who are possibly not in the team at the moment but looking for an opportunity to show the manager that they should be playing and obviously players we think will be vital as the season unfolds."