Birmingham City chief executive Karren Brady last night said Blues had dropped their interest in bringing Andrew Johnson back to St Andrew's after Crystal Palace made it clear the England striker is not for sale.
Johnson, who was sold by Blues to Palace in July 2002 for £750,000 in a partexchange deal for Clinton Morrison, scored 22 goals for Iain Dowie's side this season but was unable to prevent the Londoners being relegated from the Premiership.
Palace's demise has prompted frenzied speculation that £8 millionrated Johnson - named in the England squad for their trip to America - will be sold.
However, Palace chairman Simon Jordan has repeatedly stressed his desire to hold on to the prolific 24 - year- old forward.
And his resolve appears to have scared off Brady.
Brady said: "An inquiry was made to Crystal Palace regarding the availability of their striker Andrew Johnson.
"However, Crystal Palace made it clear that Andrew Johnson is not for sale and at no point was a bid actually placed.
"As far as we are concerned that is the end of the matter and Steve Bruce will continue to look elsewhere at other transfer targets."
Blues are now expected to step up their efforts to sign Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell, who scored 19 times on loan for the club in 2003-4. n Blues' academy scholars Mathew Birley and James Dormand yesterday signed one- year professional deals with the club.
Bromsgrove-born winger Birley has featured regularly for the reserves and scored in the Birmingham Senior Cup final defeat to Redditch United, while Dormand, an 18-year-old goalkeeper from Birmingham, has also impressed.
But Dean Curtis and Tom Parratt have been released. Peter Till and Marcos Painter are still waiting to discover their fate while Chris Cottrill has been offered a further 12 months' deal after completing his first year on pro terms.
Sam Alsop, Andrew Barrowman, Colin Doyle, Asa Hall, David Howland, Neil Kilkenny, Carl Motteram, Sam Oji and Mathew Sadler all still have another year to run on their contracts.