Birmingham City’s search to sign a defender on loan gained greater urgency yesterday after Stephen Kelly moved closer to joining Stoke City until the end of the season.
The Republic of Ireland international right-back looks set to step up to the Premier League to join The Potters’ relegation fight in a loan move that will earn Birmingham £500,000.
Stoke yesterday confirmed that the necessary paperwork to complete the deal for the 25-year-old Dubliner had been submitted before Monday’s 5pm January transfer deadline.
However, due to the adverse weather conditions, Kelly was unable to travel to Staffordshire to put pen to paper on the contract but Stoke remain confident the deal will go through after the Football League and FA announced that special dispensation would be granted due to the bad weather.
The loss of Kelly, who was the only ever-present outfield player in the Premier League last season, now means that Birmingham manager Alex McLeish’s defensive resources are worryingly low.
Having failed to capture Matthew Mills, the Doncaster Rovers defender, and West Ham United’s Calum Davenport, who has joined Sunderland on loan until the end of the season, it is safe to say that McLeish’s’ back-line is down to its bare bones.
As things stand, the only first-team defenders that the Scotsman can call on are one right-back (Stuart Parnaby), three centre-halves (Radhi Jaidi, Martin Taylor and Liam Ridgewell) and two left-backs (Franck Queudrue and David Murphy).
While some of those are capable of taking up makeshift positions – Queudrue can play at centre-half, Taylor has previously played at right-back and Ridgewell could fill in at left-back – it is far from ideal for a side chasing promotion from the Championship.
That now means McLeish needs to step up his bid to bring in at least one loan addition to his defence as Championship clubs are allowed to make such a transfer up from next Tuesday.
Ibrahima Sonko, the Stoke defender, was all set to head in the opposite direction to Kelly until his manager Tony Pullis failed to land one of the several centre-half targets he had.
However, the Senegal international could still become a temporary Birmingham player by next week, while Bolton Wanderers’ Danny Shittu is also believed to be on McLeish’s list of defensive possibilities.
Meanwhile, Birmingham’s new Honduran striker Carlos Costly Molina, who has arrived on-loan from Polish team GKS Belchatow until the end of the season, is now able to get his career in English football under way after receiving international clearance.
The 26-year-old, who has gained 22 caps and scored six goals for Honduras, is now eligible to play but is unlikely to be involved in the near future after McLeish admitted he will be put on a quick-fix fitness programme to get him ready for match action.
“I’m pleased we’ve got through the red tape and that all the administration side of things is sorted,” said the Birmingham manager. “I’d like to thank our club secretary Julia Shelton for all her hard work in dealing with the relevant authorities and tying everything up.
“I’m now looking forward to welcoming Carlos to the fold and putting him on a crash course with our sports science team to build up his match fitness.
“The aim is to have Carlos available for selection as soon as possible.”
The club have also revealed that 6ft 3in target man Costly will wear squad number 18.