The transfer window could come crunching down on Alex McLeish fingers tonight without the Birmingham City manager having found adequate defensive reinforcements after Gary Cahill opted against a move to St Andrew's.

The Aston Villa centre half instead chose to join Birmingham City's relegation rivals Bolton Wanderers in a £5 million deal that sees him end a relationship that started when he signed professional terms at Villa Park nearly four years ago.

The deal not only confounds reports that had suggested Birmingham were leading the chase for the youngster but leaves McLeish in a difficult position with just hours to go before trading stops at midnight tonight.

A source close to Cahill claimed it was his desire for a 'complete break from the Midlands' that persuaded him to eschew the advances of Birmingham and the opportunity of once more teaming up with his former Villa team-mate Liam Ridgewell.

The news comes as a massive blow to McLeish who, after enjoying a reasonably successful month of recruitment, now faces missing out in the one area Birmingham need most surgery.

That need became desperate on Tuesday night when McLeish's side gifted Sunderland a 2-0 win and three vital Premier League points with a couple of defensive howlers.

Rafael Schmitz and Ridgewell neither of whom who played well at the Stadium of Light, are the only recognised first choice centre-halves McLeish has at his disposal with Radhi Jaidi away with his country at the African Cup of Nations.

Jaidi and his Tunisia squad should qualify for the quarter-finals this afternoon when they face Angola with both sides knowing a draw would put them through.

That means Jaidi is not due back any time soon a fact that meant Birmingham were willing to pay a massive amount of money for a player largely unproven at the highest level. Birmingham also had a £5 million offer accepted and had spoken to Cahill's agent about personal terms, it was simply the 22-year-old's eagerness to move away that saw them miss out.

That means Martin Taylor is the only experienced back-up and McLeish has already told the former Blackburn Rovers centre-back he could find another club. Although he has been forced to pick Taylor in his match-day squads on a few occasions he has not yet played him.

McLeish will now spend the day desperately trying to find an alternative with Tottenham Hotspur's Anthony Gardner a potential target.

On a more positive note McLeish is considerably more hopeful of securing the services of Georgian midfielder Levan Tskitishvili for the rest of the season.

The 31-year-old, who was recently released by Greek side Panionios, has been training with City and has won over 50 caps for his country.

"Levan is training with us because we are very short in midfield and we are trying to do some kind of deal there," said Alex McLeish. Tskitishvili has also played for Dinamo Tbilisi, Freiburg and Wolfsburg.

Gary McSheffrey will be remaining at Birmingham City too after they flatly turned down a speculative approach from his former club Coventry City yesterday.

Iain Dowie had wanted to either take the winger on loan until the end of the season or buy him outright but Birmingham do not want to do business over the 25-year-old.

McSheffrey was left out of the 16 who were stripped to play Sunderland on Tuesday night but it was the first time that has happened under McLeish and he expects to feature in the near future.

If he doesn't come straight into the squad on Saturday for the crucial showdown with Derby County he could make it back for the next game against West Ham United because Olivier Kapo will be suspended having picked up his fifth booking of the season in midweek.