Alex McLeish will ask the Birmingham City board to help him lure James McFadden to St Andrew's having identified the Scotland international as his top transfer target.

Blues have already lodged and failed with a £2.5 million bid to make the Everton man McLeish's first signing and may have to find as much as £5 million before the Merseysiders will even consider doing business.

Even if they were successful in such an offer it would soak up all of the manager's available funds and McLeish must therefore turn to David Gold and David Sullivan for financial help.

Gold, the club's chairman, said this week that he would consider using his own money to help McLeish bring in the right man to secure the club's Premier League status and he will be given an early opportunity to do that.

McLeish has an expected £5 million surplus harvested from his own appointment, the sales of Neil Kilkenny and Rowan Vine and the likely departures of Martin Taylor and Neil Danns.

But with a desperate need for a midfielder, centre half and possibly a goalkeeper he knows he will need money from the owners to enable him to overhaul one of the smallest squads in the top flight.

But when the directors acquiesce, as they are almost duty bound to do, there is no certainty McFadden will agree to rejoin the man who managed him with the national team.

The former Motherwell man is not especially desperate to leave Goodison. Even though he has not played a large role this season he knows the time to prove his value has arrived. With Yakubu and Steven Pienaar away with Nigeria and South Africa at the African Cup of Nations the 24-year-old will have a crucial part to play in the coming weeks.

The start at Middlesbrough on New Year's Day, during which he scored, was his first for two months and he has begun the last two games as well, impressing in each.

Everton have the second leg of the Carling Cup to play and a Uefa Cup tie with Brann before Yakubu and Pienaar come back, presenting McFadden with a brilliant opportunity to force his way into David Moyes' first-choice line-up.

The Everton manager is also aware of the absence of two of his two most incisive attackers and will be loath to lose a quality replacement, certainly midway through the season.

If McLeish cannot tempt McFadden to move to the West Midlands he will switch his attention to Manchester City's Georgios Samaras for whom £2.5 million would probably be enough. Samaras' manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, does not see the Greek as part of his plans and would happily offload a player who has scored only eight league goals in 55 matches and cost £6 million when he joined two years ago.

Defensively David Murphy is McLeish's favoured option at left back although his club Hibernian are also reluctant to lose him.

Blues have missed out on signing Lucas Castroman after the Argentine moved to Boca Juniors. The 27-year-old agreed the terms of a pre-contract with City but turned his back to return to his homeland.

"I had a pre-agreement with Birmingham but nothing signed," he said. "I decided for many reasons to join Boca rather than them, not for money issues at all. The prestige of a club such as Boca is important, besides, I am close to my family."