West Bromwich Albion have failed to agree personal terms with Ugo Ehiogu and are no longer interested in signing the England international defender from Middlesbrough.
Bryan Robson, the Albion manager, has been tracking Ehiogu for weeks and is disappointed that a deal cannot be agreed. Robson signed the centre-back for Middlesbrough for £8 million from Aston Villa in 2000.
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Ehiogu was originally due to sign for Albion last week but Middlesbrough recalled the player when Gareth Southgate injured an ankle during the FA Cup third-round tie against Nuneaton Borough. When Middlesbrough had a change of heart, it seemed as though Ehiogu was destined for The Hawthorns. Not any more.
Middlesbrough chose not to allow Ehiogu, aged 33, to move away on loan - and Jeremy Peace, the Albion chairman, said that the club had scrapped plans for an 18-month deal.
"We've done everything we can to make this deal happen but it's just not possible," Peace said. "The goalposts keep being moved and enough is enough."
Albion are in need of a quality defender. Thomas Gaardsoe has been injured and out of form, Neil Clement is injured, and Darren Moore was suspended for the FA Cup third-round replay defeat at Reading on Tuesday night. This has effectively left Curtis Davies as Albion's most reliable defender.
Ehiogu has made 134 appearances for Middlesbrough and, at his peak two years ago, was a defender of international quality.
But injuries have hindered his career. He is surplus to requirements at Middlesbrough and has made it clear that he wants to leave.
That is what makes the breakdown of his move to Albion so surprising. At his age, he wants one final big contract but Albion work to a tight monetary policy and are prepared to look elsewhere.
Albion expect better news over their interest in Jan Kozak, the Artmedia Bratislava midfielder, who impressed on trial and is set to seal his move before the weekend.
The arrival of rearguard reinforcements cannot come quickly enough for Albion against whom Reading recovered from trailing 2-0 to triumph 3-2 in extra time thanks to Leroy Lita's sensational hat-trick.
Albion were without ten players through injury, suspension and international commitments and had been in Premiership action only two days previously, away to Wigan Athletic.
But Robson, who saw Richard Chaplow put his side 2-0 up in the first half with his first two goals in senior football, said there were no excuses.
"I'm not going to make injuries an excuse," he said. "Reading played really well and the players I had out on the pitch should have done better.
"There were only a few out there who actually played on Sunday.
"The team was freshened up so when we went 2-0 up I thought we should have done far better, keeping possession of the ball and taking the sting out of the game.
"But we didn't prove good enough to do that."
Robson is hoping to have at least three players back from injury for Saturday's home
Premiership match against Sunderland and has told Robert Earnshaw, the unsettled Wales international striker, to "get on with his job" until the club receives any concrete offers for him.
Earnshaw, who has made only four Premiership starts this season, has already had two transfer requests rejected by Robson who may be prepared to sell if the price is right.
"I have had no firm approach about Earnshaw at the moment," Robson said. "Until we get an offer which is suitable to the club, then he has to get on with his job."