Trialists Souleymane Mamam and Nigel Quashie will have another chance to impress Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish when they play for the reserves against Manchester City at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night (7.00).
Togo midfielder Mamam has already impressed in closed-door friendlies against Aston Villa and Northampton Town, scoring in both games. The 23-year-old is a free agent after being released by Royal Antwerp in Belgium and has been training with Blues for several weeks. McLeish has said he is likely to make a decision on whether to sign the player if he again impresses tonight.
Mamam signed for Manchester United in 2003 but work-permit problems made it impossible for him to play in the United Kingdom. He was sent on loan to Royal Antwerp until he became eligible for a Belgian passport but at the end of the 2006-07 season, after four seasons of playing for Antwerp as a loanee, United decided not to renew his contract.
He then signed a one-year permanent deal with Royal Antwerp before last season but became a free agent in the summer and had a trial at Motherwell until work permit problems scuppered any chance of a deal. Blues are hopeful of no such problems as the player is set to receive a Belgian passport soon.
Quashie’s situation is less complicated. The former West Bromwich Albion midfielder has been training with Blues for over a month and a one-month loan from West Ham United has been agreed.
McLeish knows of Quashie’s capabilities, having managed the 30-year-old when he was in charge of the Scotland national side. However, he wants to be convinced of Quashie’s fitness before committing himself as the player missed last season because of a foot injury.
Quashie has done well in closed-door friendlies and, with another game under his belt, McLeish may move to bolster his midfield before Saturday’s match at Burnley.
He said: “We are looking to do the Quashie deal, certainly by the time games start again because it will give us more cover and another experienced player. He hasn’t played for a long time but has made good progress in training.”
Stephen Kelly and Damien Johnson have returned to light training. Kelly had a thigh strain and has started running while Johnson underwent an operation to correct a back problem during the summer and has started to build up his rehabilitation, although both are a long way off being fit for the match at Turf Moor.
Meanwhile, striker James McFadden has stated he is happy at Blues although he does not want another season in the Championship.
The Scot, a £5 million purchase from Everton last January, confirmed he did not ask for a transfer following relegation from the Premier League. ‘‘I felt that if the chance came for me to stay in the Premier League then that would be the best thing, but it never came about. I never sulked, I never asked to leave,” McFadden said while away on international duty with Scotland.
“Even before we went down, [Blues chairman] David Gold said if we went down he’d need to sell the best players, so you’re thinking ‘where does that leave me?’ But nothing happened and I’m quite happy, although I wouldn’t be looking forward to a second season in the Championship.
“Right now, though, we’re top of the league and if we keep getting results then I won’t need to have any thoughts about it.”