It could be one in, one out at St Andrew’s this week as Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish continues his squad building for the new campaign.
Blues are front-runners in the race to sign West Bromwich Albion’s veteran striker Kevin Phillips and midfielder Olivier Kapo could be set to rejoin former manager Steve Bruce at Wigan Athletic.
McLeish is reported to have virtually sealed the deal to entice 34-year-old Phillips. Blues’ offer of a guaranteed two-year contract, as opposed to a one-year deal with an option offered by Albion, is said to have swayed the former England striker.
Phillips, who finished last season as the Championship’s joint top scorer with Wolverhampton Wanderers frontman Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, had said he wanted one last go at the Premier League before he retired but the security of the Blues offer looks to have enticed him.
Although he is in the twilight of his career, the capture of Phillips will certainly give McLeish some added options following the departures of Mikael Forssell and Mauro Zarate. He will provide vast experience to what is still a relatively young squad and his clever movement and clinical finishing will be a superb foil for James McFadden’s craft. He will also help the development of Cameron Jerome.
The only doubt about Phillips is his fitness following a serious knee injury but he said last season that, despite surgery, his injury was no more likely to recur than any player’s.
Frenchman Kapo’s stay at St Andrew’s could soon be over with Wigan said to be preparing a cash-plus-player offer. Bruce paid £3 million to bring Kapo to England from Juventus and is a known admirer of the 27-year-old. Kapo’s agent Willie McKay said over the weekend that Wigan and Marseille were interested.
Kapo has certainly not endeared himself to McLeish after he failed to turn up for the first training session of pre-season and didn’t inform the club that he had undergone surgery on a wrist injury.
What that offer eventually turns out to be will be interesting, with strong rumours that Bruce could offer a player exchange, possibly with former Blues’ targets Jason Koumas and Paul Scharner, or former Everton winger Kevin Kilbane as make-weights.
If that is the case, then it could be a sound piece of business for McLeish, who has made it known he wants to bring an attacking midfielder like former West Bromwich Albion favourite Koumas to Blues while Scharner has superb qualities as a central defender or midfielder.
Nottingham Forest have signed Andy Cole after his release by Sunderland. The 36-year-old former Manchester United, Newcastle United and England striker, who played five games on loan for Blues in 2007, joins his 12th professional club.