Birmingham City have suffered another blow in their bid to bolster their squad, having failed to obtain a work permit for Georgian midfielder Levan Tskitishvili.
Only a few hours after Aston Villa defender Gary Cahill had snubbed Blues in favour of a £5 million move to Bolton Wanderers, manager Alex McLeish travelled to London yesterday in a bid to sign 31-year-old midfield player Tskitishvili.
But the former Dinamo Tibilisi star has not been granted permission to join Blues' survival campaign and McLeish looked likely, at the time of going to press last night, to have to enter the final 14 games of the season with his existing squad.
That being the case, assistant manager Roy Aitken said they were confident the squad could secure survival. "We haven't received permission to bring Tskitishvili to the club and that is a big disappointment," Aitken said.
"I don't think there is any appeal, but we will monitor it because he is a free agent [from Greek side Panionos] so we can do something after the window has closed.
"We are confident we have the squad to stay up. I think we have shown that, especially at home in recent games. We have played very well at home and we have to continue that against Derby County [tomorrow].
Cahill's about-turn, after appearing to be joining Blues on Wednesday morning after the club offered him a better financial package than Bolton, has angered co-owner David Sullivan. "The club is extremely disappointed as a lot of hard work and effort was put in to make a further addition to our squad," Sullivan said. "This is a player we chased very hard but, in the end, despite matching the best offer that Villa received and then making him the best personal financial offer, Gary decided that he saw his future playing career away from the Midlands."
The failure to land Cahill has meant central defender Martin Taylor will not be allowed to leave. The 28-year-old, who has not featured since McLeish arrived at the club, spent just over a month on loan at Norwich and the East Anglians were keen on taking him to Carrow Road permanently. Queens Park Rangers were also interested while Blues rejected a bid from Coventry City on Wednesday.
"We have to look at the situation," Aitken said. "He has trained with the first team since he came back from his loan spell and he has been around the scene. With Radhi Jaidi away at the African Nations Cup, we needed cover for that position and I am sure Martin will continue to provide that cover."
Other players linked with moves away were Gary McSheffrey, who was thought to be the target of former club Coventry City in a loan move, and winger Daniel de Ridder, who had been linked with Paris St Germain, but Aitken ruled out any such deals.
"Gary is very much part of the squad and there is no way anyone is going out of here on loan," said Aitken, confirming that Blues had received enquiries about the winger.
"If someone came in with an offer, every player has his price, but ideally we don't want to lose anyone. We wanted to strengthen the squad, not weaken it."
Meanwhile, Blues' 18-year-old Polish goalkeeper Artur Krysiak has joined Scottish Premier League side Gretna on loan until the end of the season and highly-rated young defender Krystian Pearce has joined Port Vale on a month's loan.