Martin Latka could be in line for a Birmingham City debut away to Liverpool tomorrow night - as long as his international clearance is secured in time.
The Czech Republic Under-21 defender, who plays for Slavia Prague, joined Birmingham on loan yesterday until the end of the season.
Given Birmingham's defensive problems, it seems certain that Latka will play some part against the European champions at Anfield. Kenny Cunningham and Martin Taylor are still injured, so Latka could partner Matthew Upson.
Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, is hoping that Latka, who is 6ft 4in, can be secured in a permanent transfer.
Latka is Birmingham's second January signing after the arrival of Chris Sutton from Celtic on a short-term deal.
Of Latka, Bruce said: "He comes highly-recommended and he is young, which is always a big bonus."
Latka knows Jiri Jarosik, the Blues' utility player who is on loan from Chelsea, and that is believed to be a factor in the defender agreeing to the move to St Andrew's.
"He will probably make his debut on Wednesday at Liverpool but we'll obviously have to see how he is in training.
"It is very difficult for someone to come into a new club and play 48 hours later against Liverpool. But we'll see what the situation is with the injuries and we'll take it from there."
Jarosik will help Latka settle into life in England.
"It is always a help when there is somebody else here who speaks your language, but then Martin's English is very good anyway," added Bruce.
"Jiri has done very well here on loan and we hope that Martin can be the same too.
"We'll look at him from now until the end of the season with a view to buying him in the summer."
Latka could mark his debut by coming up against Robbie Fowler, the Liverpool striker, who has returned to the club after four years away. Fowler seems set to make his second debut against Birmingham.
Not that Birmingham should worry. Their record against Liverpool over the past four years is impressive and the teams drew 2-2 at St Andrew's last September.
Bruce has been forced to field his son, Alex, at centre back in recent weeks. He was last night looking into the possibility of signing Jason Euell, the striker-cummidfield player, from Charlton Athletic.
Bruce has opted to make himself available for the Republic rather than Northern Ireland. The Manchester-born player qualifies to play for both countries through his grandparents.
Bruce was last week selected by Northern Ireland for an under-21 clash with Israel. But the 21-year-old has decided his allegiance lies with the Republic of Ireland.
Another player with international aspirations is David Dunn, whose performance against Reading in the FA Cup last Saturday led Steve Coppell, their manager, to suggest that the player could make the England squad in time for the World Cup.
Dunn might have made the England party for Euro 2004 in Portugal but suffered a hamstring injury at a time when his stock was rising.
Now he is regaining those lost admirers.
Dunn is rare in that he provides England with options on the left flank. His trickery is well known and his ability to score goals also makes him a valuable commodity.
Meanwhile, David Gold, the Birmingham chairman, wants the game's world governing body to make it statutory for all football nations to be managed by someone from their own country.
Gold has repeated his desire for Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor to be English. And he wants Fifa, who control the world game, to intervene.
"I wish Sven well over this coming period because nothing would give me greater pleasure for all the fans who have hung in there over the years if we go on and win the World Cup," Gold said. "It would be fantastic.
"We have the finest England team we have had for 40 years. It is probably a chance of a lifetime. We have got the right players - I think - and we have an opportunity because the finals are in Europe.
"If Sven goes out on a high and wins the World Cup, we will all forgive him for his 'misdemeanours'. But the next manager at the very least needs to be British - and I want him to be English. I believe Fifa should make it a rule that a country cannot be managed by anyone other than a national from that country.
"I bet if you went to Sweden, they wouldn't want to see an English manager in charge of their team."