Steve Bruce has made no secret of his intentions of exploring the international market place in a bid to get better for value for money.

The Birmingham City manager now has a much firmer idea of whether his latest crop of foreign signings will prove useful after seeing them in action for the first time yesterday.

Triallist striker Mohamed Kallon, new midfield men Wilson Palacios and Borja Oubina and, most tellingly, centre-half Rafael Schmitz all started at Blues' Wast Hills training ground as Bruce's side enjoyed a behind-closed-doors 6-0 win over Kidderminster Harriers.

Although it was only non-League opposition, Bruce now has another nine days to decide whether any of them showed enough to figure when Blues return to action against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday week.

Most needed is the highly-rated Schmitz, out injured since suffering an Achilles heel problem on Blues' pre-season tour of Germany.

There were initial fears that Schmitz might have to undergo an operation, when he returned home to his parent club Lille for a second opinion. But that worry was allayed, he has responded to treatment and, if he can prove his fitness over the next nine days, then he looks a shoo-in for the Bolton game.

Certainly, given the way Blues defended against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium last Saturday, and although Radhi Jaidi is keen to play against his old club for the first time, it is hard to imagine that there will not be changes in the back four.

Schmitz's likely inclusion, and that of midfield man Oubina, are testimony to the direction Blues are moving in on the foreign signing

front. Only three of Bruce's 12 summer signings (new skipper Liam Ridgewell from Aston Villa, Stuart Parnaby from Boro and Russian exile Garry O'Connor) are British-born, although Blues have also done business with Arsenal to land Johan Djourou and English-qualified Fabrice Muamba, as well as Fulham to buy Franck Queudrue.

At a time when he has expressed concern at the lack of quality coming through the academies at most English clubs, Bruce admits: "The one area we've got to improve on is the European recruitment market.

"We've got to know the market better than we do, which is why we have employed Stan Ternent, the old Burnley manager, who comes and does a bit for us, and Dave Watson, the former Everton defender. We are hoping one more person with vast experience will be able to cover the European market."

In the short term, though, is the urgent need for league points to get back on the trail against Bolton on Saturday week after Blues' desperately poor performance at the Riverside.

Several players, apart from Kallon and Schmitz, who both pushed their claims by scoring a goal, gave the manager something to think about against the Harriers. Gary McSheffrey, left out again at Boro, scored twice, while the hungry Neil Danns and Rowan Vine, who had also played alongside Martin Taylor for the reserves in a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night, were Blues' other scorers.

Meanwhile, Colin Doyle is hoping for the tonic of a part in the Republic of Ireland's two games in four days after the shock of being relegated from Blues' first-choice keeper to third-choice inside a week.

After being kept on the bench in Denmark last month when Preston North End's Wayne Henderson was given the whole game in place of the injured Shay Given, Doyle then found himself out in the cold on the Saturday at club level.

But, although Given has recovered from a groin injury to be fit to keep goal for the two games against Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Henderson is now out with a shoulder injury. That has pushed Doyle back up the pecking order, competing for a place on the bench alongside Barnsley's Nick Colgan.