Blues unlikely to dip into the loan market


Staff writer

Alex McLeish has admitted that he is unlikely to make use of the loan market before this Friday’s deadline and would only move if a player “sticks out a mile”.

The Birmingham City manager welcomes Ipswich Town to St Andrew’s tonight but the chances of a new face donning his club’s blue kit for the crunch encounter at Molineux in four days time are slim.

The loan market temporarily closes on Friday until January, so the next few days are likely to see a number of clubs scramble to boost their ranks for the hectic festive period.

However, Birmingham look unlikely to be one of them as McLeish appears to be content with the squad at his disposal for the time being.

Although it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of one of his fringe players moving the other way, for example out-of-favour and recently injured forward Gary McSheffrey has been strongly linked with a return to his former club Coventry City.

“We are swivelling one or two things,” said McLeish on the possibility of dipping into the loan market. “But I don’t know if there will be anyone coming in unless something sticks out a mile”

McLeish has, however, officially extended Nigel Quashie’s second consecutive one-month loan deal and the former Scotland international returns to the Birmingham squad for tonight’s arrival of the Tractor Boys.

It’s unlikely that Quashie, who was suspended for Friday night’s trip to Swansea City, will come straight into the starting line-up that dramatically won 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium.

While drama has been in abundance for Birmingham recently, ruthlessness hasn’t and that is something that McLeish will be looking to reveal tonight ahead of the all-important local derby with Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

McLeish isn’t getting too caught up in the tension that is building for the showdown with the old gold-and-black enemy.

“We’ve certainly done it the hard way in the last two games but we’ve got to take the spirit and the character that we’ve shown into the Ipswich game and hopefully we can see the performance levels go up considerably,” he said.

“I can’t say anything at all against the players’ character and their spirit. They’ve got that in abundance.”

Reading’s defeat to Southampton on Saturday slightly turned down the heat on Birmingham and victory for Sheffield United tonight at home to Wolves, who have built up a commanding six-point lead at the top of the Championship, would cool the situation considerably.

That is, of course, if Birmingham don’t slip up against Jim Magilton’s Ipswich.

McLeish said: “I don’t think that we really ever don’t have pressure, I think it’s always there regardless. Of course you want to see your rivals drop points but this is a marathon, an absolute marathon in this division. But it does show the capabilities of the other teams. It’s a very competitive league.

“It’s a great lead that Wolves have got and credit to them, I saw them at the weekend and they were a decent team. We’ve just got to keep looking to win as many games as we can and everything will take care of itself.

“I’m sure there will be twists and turns and if we can look after ourselves then you’d like to thing that we can peg Wolves back.”