Alex McLeish is hopeful that goalkeeper Maik Taylor and striker Mikael Forssell will put pen to paper soon on new deals to keep them at Birmingham City.

The duo, who are out of contract at the end of next month, have been offered new deals and are in talks with their representatives and Blues managing director Karren Brady.

Taylor is expected to prefer to stay at Blues as a first choice goalkeeper rather than take up offers elsewhere which could mean acting as a No 2 and sitting on the bench for most of the season. Liverpool and Everton were understood to be considering such a role for the 36-year-old but the Northern Ireland international would rather play regularly and his fam-ily are settled in the area after nearly five years at the club.

Alex McLeish, the Blues manager, said: "Maik's performances last season were of a high level and I thought he was terrific towards the end of the season. He is as fit as a fiddle and he still has an edge to his game. He wants to achieve things and that is very important. He isn't winding down his career, he is looking to enjoy success next season."

Forssell's situation isn't as straight forward and, although Blues have taken up a two-year option on his contract, the Finland international could reject the offer of reduced wages until the club's Barclays Premier League status is secured once again.

Forssell is believed to be one of the top earners at the club after completing his £3 million move from Chelsea three years ago. He almost left to join Bundesliga side Hannover 96 for £1 million last season but the deal fell through. However, Forssell may decide to pursue a new challenge.

McLeish revealed there will inevitably be departures as he continues to stamp his own mark on the squad.

He said: "I can't have a squad of 30-plus so some players who will not feature in my plans will inevitably leave. It isn't just about signing players."

But McLeish said he would resist any approaches from other clubs to entice his better players.

"I haven't had any approaches yet, and I hope it stays that way," he said. "But it is the quiet period at the moment. However, there could be a time when we have to deal with that problem."

McLeish said he was pleased with the business he had already done this summer - the signing of Everton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Lee Carsley. The 34-year-old will add some much-needed experience to Blues' tender ranks but McLeish said going for older players wasn't a policy.

"Lee is a proven Premier League player with fantastic pedigree," he said. "He is a great addition as he has great experience, and he is a leader on the pitch.

"I don't worry about how old the players are as long as they are good enough. The only thing I really consider is can they make us better?

"If they have experience as well then that helps, but first of all I ask are they good enough?

"There are a lot of names being thrown at me at the moment and I could add to the squad easily but I want to get the right quality in. I am still looking to try to do something."

Meanwhile, Portsmouth have dismissed suggestions that they are in the running to sign Mauro Zarate, who has left Blues after his loan spell from Qatar side Al-Sadd.

The Argentine would cost about £10 million and the FA Cup winners were being strongly linked to a possible move for the 21-year-old but chief executive Peter Storrie has denied there is any link.

He said: "It's absolute rubbish, I don't know where this has come from. He is not one we are looking at, without a doubt. There is no truth in these rumours at all."