Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has revealed that Gary McSheffrey and Marcus Bent are likely to be sacrificed as a result of the club’s summer spending.
While ten players have been recruited in recent months, Birmingham have only sold one: Stephen Kelly to Fulham, although the Tunisian duo of Radhi Jaidi and Mehdi Nafti were both released at the end of last season.
McLeish has made no secret of the fact that he is eager to bring in yet further new faces to his squad, as he looks to secure Birmingham’s Premier League status beyond this season.
The £3 million transfer of Spanish midfielder Michel from Sporting Gijon, which will drag on into next week, is expected to be completed, but McLeish accepts that is likely to be the last of the current window, especially with Carson Yeung’s takeover looming.
McLeish will now move on to the task of trimming his squad of players who are likely to largely remain on the fringes this season and he has identified striker Bent and winger McSheffrey as two possible departees.
Former Coventry City man McSheffrey has struggled with injury and only made eight Birmingham performances last season before being sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest. Meanwhile, the well-travelled Bent struggled to make his mark at St Andrew’s and has slipped further down the striking pecking order following the arrival of Christian Benitez.
Also with a packed midfield, it would come as no great surprise if McLeish listened to offers for club captain Damien Johnson and third-choice goalkeeper Colin Doyle could be shipped out on loan.
McLeish has confirmed that several of his players have been told to notify their agents that they can move on.
“We’ve spoken to a couple of players and told them and their agents that we will listen to offers for them,” said the Birmingham manager.
“It may happen before the window closes. We anticipate one or two might leave. I have spoken to Gary McSheffrey and Marcus Bent and said unfortunately when you bring new players in, you have to make some sacrifices.
“We will listen to offers for these lads. Hopefully the agents are working around the clock to help their clients.”
Birmingham host Stoke City tomorrow (3pm kick-off) and are likely to face a similarly scrappy battle to the one that Portsmouth presented on Wednesday night.
The Blues will be boosted by the return of midfielder Lee Bowyer, who has served the three-match ban from his sendingoff against Preston North End in the penultimate game of last season.
McLeish has given away no clues as to whether the former England international man will come straight into his starting line-up but Keith Fahey would be the most likely candidate to make way.
The Birmingham manager added: “He (Bowyer) might not get a game. The players have done well. When you go out through suspension and the other players have done well, then sometimes it is hard to get back.
“There is no doubt we welcome Lee back to the squad and we will make a decision on whether he starts or not.”
Fresh injury doubts hang over Cameron Jerome (ankle) and Gregory Vignal (hip), who both limped off during the 1-0 victory over Portsmouth.