James McFadden has said he wouldn’t hesitate to step up and take a pressure penalty that would keep Birmingham City in the Barclays Premier League.
The 24-year-old, who could become the club’s record signing depending on appearances, has held his nerve to score vital spot kicks in Blues’ last two matches, including the pressurised injury-time equaliser against Arsenal at St Andrew's on Saturday.
While some team-mates couldn’t bear to watch as the Scottish international stepped up to beat Manuel Almunia from the spot, McFadden said he didn’t feel any pressure.
"You should be scoring them," he said. "I don’t think there was anyone else on the pitch to take it as Gary McSheffrey and Mikael Forssell weren’t there.
"No-one else challenged me so I will keep taking them. I have scored three goals from three set-pieces and I would step up again on the last day if we got a late penalty to keep us up. It is a nice pressure and I enjoy it."
McFadden had put ten-man Blues into an unlikely lead against Arsenal with a stunning free kick in the 28th minute which beat the wall and Almunia to find the top corner. He said he knew exactly where he wanted to put the kick and felt the draw had given the squad a massive boost as they continue their fight to beat relegation.
"I knew what I wanted to do with the free kick and Almunia left a big gap so I knew where to put it," he revealed. "I was pleased with my performance but there were parts of my game to improve on, as I could have held the ball up a bit better.
"The performance against West Ham United [a 1-1 draw the previous week] was a turning point for our season. We should have killed Derby County off in the previous game [which Blues also drew 1-1] and it would have been easy to crumble after that but we bounced back at West Ham and hopefully we can come away with three points this week against Tottenham Hotspur.
"With Derby deep in trouble, we should be okay but no team is ever too good to go down and we need to keep fighting."
If McFadden continues to score the goals that keep Blues in the league, his potential record transfer fee of £6 million will prove to be a bargain.
The Scot demonstrated his quality with two goals against the Gunners, working his socks off as a lone striker as the hosts were forced to play with ten men following the third-minute sending-off of Martin Taylor.
As well as the goals, his performances have left manager Alex McLeish purring and believing he was justified to part with so much money for the striker.
"Unfortunately, in the Premier League when you ask about a player, it normally starts at £4 million and upwards," McLeish said. "That is the league we are in and the big money that is involved in the Premier League. The way he is playing, McFadden is looking worth every penny."
The Scot has also made a big impact on his new team-mates after arriving from Everton in January. He may play at opposite ends of the field to goalkeeper Maik Taylor but his performances have not gone unnoticed by the Northern Ireland international.
Taylor said: "It was very difficult for him against Arsenal and at times we were under the cosh and we just put our foot through the ball and cleared our lines. You couldn't expect James to do any more than he did.
"He ran himself into the ground and deserved his two goals. I was so nervous for the penalty. I dread to think what James was thinking.
"He has got that ability and, apart from maybe Forssell, you wouldn’t have wanted that penalty to go to anyone else in the team."
Vice-captain Liam Ridgewell also hailed his team-mate after his man-of-the-the match performance. "That is what he has been brought to the club to do and that is why he has such a price tag," he said.
Meanwhile, McLeish has confirmed that influential French midfielder Olivier Kapo will be out of action for a month after suffering a hamstring injury.
The club's joint top-scorer limped off in the second half of Saturday’s match and McLeish believes the burden of having to play one man short for almost the entire game took its toll. "I think playing with ten men puts an extra strain on all the players," he said.
"Kapo was key for us in the first half because he provided a great outlet for Maik Taylor and he also won a lot of balls in the air and kept the ball alive for us, but I think the extra burden that it put on him has taken its toll."
Defender Ridgewell is also doubtful for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday with an ankle injury and that could leave McLeish short at centre-half as Taylor will begin his three-match ban this week.
* Blues booked their place in the final of the Birmingham Senior Cup on Monday thanks to a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Telford’s Bucks Head Ground.
Mauro Zarate scored the winner, his first goal for the club, as Blues fielded a string side that included Rahdi Jaidi, Daniel De Ridder and Gary McSheffrey.