Birmingham City's top transfer target, Everton striker James McFadden, is desperate to secure a move to St Andrew's, according to a source close to the player.

The chance to reprise his partnership with Blues manager Alex McLeish is the key factor behind the Scotland international's desire to move to the West Midlands - but it is not the only one.

McFadden and McLeish were the inspirations behind Scotland's extraordinary Euro 2008 qualification campaign that saw the Bravehearts nearly emerge from a group containing both finalists at the last World Cup.

Goals by the former Motherwell forward against Lithuania, France and Ukraine meant the Scots needed to win their last remaining fixture, at home to Italy, to make it through to this summer's finals.

Even though they failed, both manager and player emerged as shining lights and ever since McLeish took over at Birmingham late last year, there has been speculation they are to be reunited with Blues.

McLeish confirmed his desire to make McFadden his first signing following Saturday's 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium and although the 24-year-old has not said anything publicly, The Post understands he is keen to move to Birmingham.

That is not to say he is especially unhappy at Goodison Park, where there is a suggestion he is about to be offered a new contract by manager David Moyes, but he would be persuaded by a more central role in McLeish's team.

McFadden went two months without a start earlier this season and has only returned to the Everton first team on a regular basis since

Yakubu and Steven Pienaar have gone to the African Cup of Nations.

When he does play, he is rarely employed as an out-and-out striker whereas, at Birmingham, he would be an ideal foil for Cameron Jerome.

However, it is far from certain whether McLeish will be able to persuade Moyes to do business, especially as he has already had two bids rejected, one of £2.5 million last week and another of £3 million yesterday.

Everton want nearer £5 million but that would consume all of McLeish's available budget which means the owners would have to subsidise the move, which they are almost duty-bound to do. Chairman David Gold implied they would do exactly that early last week.

Meanwhile, Olivier Tebily yesterday became the fourth player to leave St Andrew's this month. The former Celtic man follows Neil Kilkenny, Rowan Vine and Johan Djourou out of the door. Blues paid up the remainder of his contract, which expires at the end of the current campaign, after the Ivory Coast international became surplus to requirements. His last first-team appearance was in October 2006.

"I have now reached a stage in my career where it's time to move on," the 32-year-old said. Tebily was signed from Celtic in March 2002 for £1.25 million and made 95 appearances for Birmingham.

Dulee Johnson, however, hopes his Blues career is just about to start. The Liberian has finished a week-long trial at Wast Hills and has returned to his Swedish club, AIK Solna, but he is optimistic he has done enough to earn a permanent transfer to the Premier League. "McLeish was happy with me," he told his website. "I was so happy to hear him praising me. Everything's done, it's left with me to sign a dea, based on whatever agreement they arrive at with AIK."