Keith Fahey is no Euro sceptic. And the Birmingham City midfielder says that the club’s Europa League involvement is good for all concerned.
Tonight, Blues face Club Brugges at St Andrew’s (8.05pm) in a key Group H fixture.
A victory would put Blues tantalising close to qualifying for the knockout phase.
Fahey had to wait for his Europa League debut for Blues because of injury.
But his return to the side after a double hernia operation helped spark Blues’ six-game winning streak, and the 2-1 result at NK Maribor that got Chris Hughton’s side rolling in the continental competition.
“I think it’s better to be involved in the Europa League than not,” says the Irish international.
“It’s given us a chance to play against sides that play a very different style to the Championship.
“And it has helped us in the league.
“As players we’re also fully aware of how much it means to the supporters.
“The fans that travelled over to Bruges were brilliant and it was great to hear them singing ‘it’s just like watching Brazil’!”
Blues are top of the group on the same number of points – six – as Club Brugges. They have got the nod because of the head-to-head record between the teams.
SC Braga are third on four points and they face Maribor at home tonight.
Club Brugges go into the game in turmoil. Blues’ win a fortnight ago sparked a four-game losing streak.
They failed to hold on to the lead in all of those games, most astonishingly last Saturday at home to Genk. Despite being 4-2 up with 20 minutes left, they lost 5-4 and the directors had enough – coach Adrie Koster was sacked. Blues manager Chris Hughton reckons the change probably won’t alter the way they play.
“That will depend on the philosophy of who is taking them now,” Hughton says.
“They will know that they have to address certain things.
“But it’s their philosophy coming into the game.
“Will it be one that is ‘we’re coming here with an offensive view we have had in recent games’ or will the new coaches want to steady the ship a little bit, make sure they are tougher to beat?
“If I look at the players they have got, they are an offensive team.
“Unless they change the shape, I still very much expect they will come here to try and win.”
Hughton can call upon Wade Elliott and Pablo again, but Morgaro Gomis remains sidelined.
If Bruges stay to type, then tonight’s game could be another thriller.
Analysing Club Brugges’ recent run of form, Hughton says: “You can look at things either way. In their last few games you can see it from a negative point of view, or a positive point of view.
“This is a team that has conceded a lot of goals. But from the other side of it, this is a team that has scored a lot of goals.
“And the report we had from the weekend was that at 4-2 they were very, very good and scored some really good goals. They were a real offensive threat.”