Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has insisted that he has no plan to sign Quinton Fortune despite inviting the former South Africa international to train with the club.
The Blues squad reconvened yesterday ahead of the Premier League season and amongst the sun-tanned faces was Fortune, the former Manchester United player.
The 32-year-old versatile left-sider has been unemployed since being released from Belgian club Tubize at the end of the 2008-09 season. Fortune’s stint in the Belgium top flight had seen him register an eighth senior club but it appears that Birmingham aren’t about to become his ninth.
According to McLeish, a mutual friend asked if Fortune was able to use the facilities at Birmingham’s Wast Hills training complex to help keep fit while he searches for a new club and the Scot welcomed him with open arms.
“We’re just training Quinton as a favour,” McLeish said. “I know a mutual friend and he asked if I could provide facilities for Quinton. I said: ‘yeah, let him come and join in’.
“We are just doing him a favour. There’s not a deal on the table for Quinton, he is not on trial and it is purely a favour. Because we have left-backs already it wouldn’t be fair to those players.”
Although Fortune may not be on his shopping list McLeish is in the market for another two or three signings.
Lee Bowyer’s permanent move to St Andrew’s, on a two-year contract, was formally confirmed yesterday but purchasing another central midfielder remains a priority for McLeish.
However, he refused to comment on speculation that the controversial Newcastle United midfielder, Joey Barton, could be the man to fill that void, for fear of disappointing the Birmingham faithful.
McLeish added: “I don’t want to say anything about Joey at all. I don’t like to talk about other club’s players when there’s speculation around. I don’t want to say anything until I’ve got something to say to the Blues fans. I don’t want to say ‘we have this one and that one’ and then nothing happens.”
One area of the Birmingham squad that appears to be at full quota is the centre-half position, following the arrival of Scott Dann, Roger Johnson and Giovanny Espinoza. Former Celtic defender Bobo Balde had been invited to join Birmingham on pre-season training but the Guinea international has since linked up with Wolverhampton Wanderers on their tour of Australia.
McLeish revealed yesterday that he contacted Balde, who has also been subject to a contract offer from Burnley, to withdraw his invitation of a trial following his dealings in the summer transfer market.
“I spoke to Bobo and we were very honest and open with each other. I said: ‘look, I’ve got my quota of centre-halves big fella, I’m going to have to withdraw the invitation’. He was fine, maybe disappointed, but I know that Bobo will get something. He maybe had Wolves in the pipeline in the event but we definitely spoke about it which is the way I do things, I like to be honest with people and I don’t like them to read it in the papers.”