It has been an eventful season for the Blues, who had to cope with the departure of manager Alex McLeish and a host of players last summer, although Hughton has been highly impressive, especially as City were involved in the Europa League until December.
Since then, the Midlands side have been playing catch-up and amassed enough points to reach the play-offs, although last week’s game at Bloomfield Road didn’t go quite according to plan and there is a 1-0 first leg deficit to overturn.
Birmingham are a best price 10/11 (Paddy Power free bets) to win Wednesday night’s match, a result that would take the tie into extra-time as a bare minimum, although the bookies do make City the 11/8 outsiders (Stan James) to qualify for the final.
The Tangerines gained promotion through the play-offs two seasons ago before enjoying an eventful but ultimately disappointing campaign in the Premier League. Charlie Adam and Co disappeared out of the exit door but Ian Holloway has waved his magic wand once more and Blackpool have been consistent enough to feature in the top six again.
The Lancashire side were just about value for their 1-0 win against Birmingham last week and can be backed at 10/3 (Ladbrokes bookmaker) although this isn’t a match where they need anything more than a draw to go through to the final.
Not that the visitors are likely to sit back under Holloway and it is worth noting that Blackpool ran Nottingham Forest ragged two years ago at the same stage of the play-offs to book their place in the final against Cardiff.
The draw is attractively priced at 11/4 (bet365 free bets) and perhaps we should expect the goals to be flying in at both ends considering that the whole season rests on these ninety minutes and that will see both teams coming forward in numbers.
The big question is whether Kevin Phillips will start the match against his former club and wouldn’t it just be typical if the ex-Sunderland striker helped his new club to reach Wembley, with 8/1 available that Super Kev continues to score important goals such as the first one of the night.
However, you can’t help but feel that a team with a such a strong record as Birmingham look a good bet to qualify from the tie and set up a pulsating final against the Hammers.