Birmingham boss Chris Hughton plays down West Brom link

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton has played down reports naming him as the leading candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson at West Brom.

However, Hughton insisted he was solely focused on trying to lead Birmingham back to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs.

"Anything else is completely out of my control and, at the moment, doesn't interest me," the 53-year-old said.

"I can only deal with anything that is fact and what is fact is that we've got a massively important game in a few days against a very, very good Blackpool team."

Hughton began his managerial career with Newcastle and steered them to promotion two seasons ago, only to be sacked in December 2010 with the team 11th in the Premier League table.

Two months later he was linked with the West Brom job, but the Hawthorns club instead turned to Hodgson and Hughton eventually returned to management with Birmingham in June last year following their relegation from the Premier League, having won the Carling Cup earlier in the season.

"Most people would be aware that I was involved in a process (with West Brom) there but that's immaterial," he told BBC Sport.

"This is now and this is what is fact. At this moment, my efforts and concentration are all on this group of lads and getting this football club hopefully through a play-off situation."

Birmingham travel to Blackpool for the first leg of their play-off tie on Friday, with the second leg at St Andrew's on 9 May.

The winners will play West Ham or Cardiff in the final at Wembley 10 days later.

A statement from West Brom chairman Jeremy Pearce, meanwhile, said they would now do "everything possible to identify and approach the right head coach" to replace Hodgson next season.