He’s the lynchpin of the Blues side, a smooth midfield operator. And Barry Ferguson has been described by a team mate as ‘phenomenal’.
Sebastian Larsson said that Ferguson, who was voted Blues’ players’ player-of-the-season, was so important to their fortunes.
No wonder, then, that Alex McLeish and the club’s board handed him a new contract this summer.
Larsson said Ferguson’s decision not to return to international football would also help their chances at St Andrew’s.
“It is not great news for Scotland because he has been captain and an important player in the past.
”But it is good for Birmingham because he has done so well for us since he signed from Rangers.
“Since he came to the Premier League last season, his form has been outstanding.
“He’s been phenomenal and he was exactly the type of player we needed in the midfield.
“He could still play international football without a problem. But maybe he doesn’t want to risk going away with Scotland when everything is going so well for him with Birmingham.
“Barry kept us ticking at times last season and he was an outstanding signing.
“He has now got a new contract and that says everything about his contribution last season.
“People have accused him of being a moaner but I don’t think that’s fair. He is simply a winner and expects the people around him to be winners as well.”
Larsson, a former Blues player-of-the-season, has himself been back to his perky best during preparations.
Although he remains in dispute with Blues contractually – talks over a new deal have got nowhere – he has the bit between his teeth.
And the Swedish international winger said that under McLeish, he was enjoying himself. “The gaffer has been terrific for the team and, for myself, he has been so positive.
“I thought I was doing well under Steve Bruce but Alex McLeish gave me a lot more confidence and belief in myself.
“I have had some of the best times of my career under the gaffer and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Blues, meanwhile, have brushed off suggestions that McLeish could be a target for Aston Villa after Martin O’Neill’s resignation.
McLeish has been in talks about a new contract for several weeks, but no agreement appears imminent.
He is in the last year of his deal and in June the agreement moves to a 12-month rolling contract.
Fulham were eyeing up McLeish in the event they didn’t land Mark Hughes.
A Blues source said: “The club have not heard anything or been approached by Villa, so they don’t wish to speculate on this issue.”