Former Norwich assistant manager Lee Clark revealed yesterday he had spoken to Chris Hughton about the Birmingham job after succeeding the Canaries’ boss at St Andrews.

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Clark is determined to build on Hughton’s legacy following his official unveiling as the new Blues’ chief in the wake of Hughton’s departure to Norwich earlier this month. The 39-year-old knows the size of the task ahead after Hughton guided Birmingham to the Championship play-offs and a thrilling Europa League run, despite operating under a transfer embargo.

“I’d like to carry on the momentum Chris Hughton and his staff built last year,” said Clark. “Looking at the basis of the squad, there’s a great mixture of experienced players, who are still hungry to be successful, and young players who are learning the game but are very, very exciting.

“It’s not often you come into a football club where things have gone well, but Chris has created a magnificent atmosphere around the club both with the playing staff and the supporters and I have just got to carry that on.

“There doesn’t need much to be changed here, it was a superb season by everyone connected with the club, we have just got to try and enhance that and get a little bit more luck maybe than the team had and go that one step further to getting that promotion spot, which just didn’t happen.”

Hughton has been linked with raids on his former club for the likes of old boys Curtis Davies and Chris Burke. England goalkeeping coach Dave Watson has also been reportedly sounded out about re-joining Hughton’s Norwich backroom team, but Clark wants all his key personnel to remain in the Midlands.

“I 100pc want Dave Watson to stay here,” he said. “He is a magnificent coach, I played with him, I want him here for the time I am here and I know the club want him. We are looking at his contract to see what his future is and the rest will be up to him, he is a friend and I have known him 20 years. We will do whatever we can to make him stay.

“Curtis Davies is a fantastic player and he falls into the category of players we need to keep here at all costs. Chris Burke is a fantastic player. There will need to be crazy bids for Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland, big, big numbers. I love having my players linked with other clubs, it means they are good.”

Clark confirmed Birmingham are actively planning to bring in reinforcements with the transfer embargo poised to be lifted after the club filed outstanding accounts.

“We are in discussions with players as we speak and we have to get quality in the squad,” he said. “This is a big, big club - as I know from whenever I’ve been fortunate enough to be here as a player or as a member of the opposition coaching staff.

“The passion and drive of the fans is superb and when you walk around and see the facilities and the stadium then you know that this is a Premier League club in waiting.”

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  • Has this story been cut + pasted from the Birmingham Mail ?

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    Thursday, June 28, 2012

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