Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has thrown down the gauntlet to his misfiring strikers to find the goalscoring form that can spark their battle to avoid relegation.
Blues have only scored 24 goals in 25 games only Middlesbrough and Derby County have scored fewer in the Barclays Premier League and their lack of a killer instinct was all too evident as they failed to kill off Derby last Saturday. However, McLeish still believes his strikers have the quality required to take the chances his side create as they head into the final 13 games of the season.
"We have been struggling for goals and we are looking for someone to light the touch-paper," he said. "We have been switching them about and some strikers may say they need five games to get going, but unfortunately you don't get that time in the Premier League.
"I am looking for someone who is going to take the bull by the horns. If you looked at our strikers you would have thought we had goals in the side, and I feel there are goals in these guys. It is all about grabbing the opportunity. We haven't done ourselves justice in terms of the strikers we have got here. We need a goals return."
Meanwhile, vice-captain Liam Ridgewell has promised supporters the continued upheaval off the field at St Andrew's will have no bearing on the team's attempts to secure survival in the Premier League.
Birmingham have endured a disrupted season as Carson's Yeung's failed takeover of the club has ultimately resulted in serious ramifications. After acquiring 29.9 per cent of the club's shares for £15 million, the Hong Kong businessman and his company, Grandtop International, failed to come up with the rest of the funds, believed to be around £35 million to buy out current owners David Sullivan and the Gold brothers. But the protracted affair ultimately cost the club the services of manager Steve Bruce who resigned to take over at Wigan Athletic over doubts about his own future.
The Blues board may have hoped Yeung would not interfere any further and distract the club from the sole aim of avoiding relegation but Yeung has come out of the shadows and is attempting to have two associates, former Liverpool star Steve McManaman and former Crystal Palace defender Fan Zhiyi, installed as directors on the club board.
Blues managing director Karren Brady has written to shareholders advising them to vote against the proposal at a meeting in two weeks.
Ridgewell, who was signed by Bruce from Aston Villa and handed the captain's armband by the former Blues boss, promised nothing would distract the players from the task in hand.
"I don't think we can put our position in the league down to what has happened off the pitch," he said. "We don't take too much notice of what is written but obviously we hear stuff. We have to just concentrate on our jobs."
Despite Ridgewell's pledge, there is no doubt that drawn-out and bitter affair has had an impact at St Andrew's. Bruce was in the midst of building a squad capable of consolidating the club's place in the Premiership after gaining promotion from the Championship at the first attempt. But the Yeung takeover meant it wasn't clear how much money Bruce would have to spend in the January transfer window, or even whether he would still have a job.
Bruce left in November and McLeish came in. Although he was able to sign two players he knew well, full back David Murphy from Hibernian and Scotland striker James McFadden from Everton, McLeish may have been able to do more business given more time to lay the groundwork for deals.
A centre-back was a priority and having missed out on Villa's Gary Cahill, McLeish was left with no time to target an alternative. Any further disruption at boardroom level would have an impact, not just on this season's hopes of survival but for planning for the next campaign, whatever division that may be, a fact that is not lost on the current board.
* The Premier League last night confirmed that teams will be able to name seven substitutes in matches next season. The move means the League falls into line with major European leagues, UEFA and international tournaments.