Birmingham City skipper Damien Johnson is willing to wear a protective mask and return to action against Arsenal - just a fortnight after suffering a minor fracture of his skull.

The Northern Ireland international was substituted at half-time against Fulham on December 29 with what was initially described as a jaw injury. But scans revealed the true nature of the problem and Johnson was ruled out of the Barclays League clash at Manchester United and the FA Cup defeat by Huddersfield.

His return at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday would be timely as Medhi Nafti has linked up with Tunisia for the African Cup of Nations.  Blues first team coach Roy Aitken said: "We know what Damien Johnson brings to the team, that whole-hearted Birmingham spirit, and the fans respond to that as well.

"He has been here a long time, he knows the club inside out, he is the club captain so he has got a lot of respect in the dressing room. It will be nice to have him back as soon as possible."

Blues boss Alex McLeish is continuing his search to bring in new players, with Everton striker James McFadden, Manchester City forward Georgios Samaras and Hibernian left-back David Murphy top of his wish list.

Aitken said: "It is an ongoing process. Daily there are discussions as regards bringing players in. The manager would like to strengthen the squad. It would be great for the players here to help them through the remainder of the season because it is going to be a tough four or five months ahead.

"I think the manager would like to strengthen most departments, whether it be defence, midfield or attack. It is an ongoing process over the course of this month.

"The manager has been given the backing by the board so there will be money available if and when he decides to use that money."