You can’t help thinking West Bromwich Albion fans are keeping one eye on developments at St Andrew’s these days.
It’s nothing with neighbourly love, though. While Albion and Birmingham City might enjoy a ‘friendly’ rivalry, the reason for the vested interest is more about the form of Chris Hughton’s side.
Promotion for Blues would leave Albion struggling to prise Ben Foster away on a permanent deal at The Hawthorns.
Such has been Foster’s form this season – with occasional sprinkling of legerdemain – that there is a feeling that the goalkeeper might be out of Albion’s reach this summer.
Baggies goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely is close to Foster. He appreciates the impact his fellow Warwickshire-born shot stopper has had this season.
Birmingham’s relegation and Scott Carson’s departure made it inevitable Albion would be looking across the city.
And Kiely called in some favours, based on their common, local ground.
“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “I used my connections with Ben and the people around him to try to get him a year before when he went to Birmingham but it didn’t pan out then.
“The opportunity came up again and I said to (Albion’s sporting and technical director) Dan Ashworth and the manager ‘you don’t have to think twice about it because he will enhance what we’re trying to do’ and I think he has.
“I sit there in the dugout every week enjoying watching Ben play and I enjoy working with him immensely Monday to Friday. He’s an absolute joy.
“I’m a bit biased because he’s from Leamington, the same place as me, and I know him from way back, but putting that aside, I think he’s a top player and good goalkeeper.”
Foster’s future remains uncertain as he is due to return to Blues in the summer when his season-long loan expires.
Rumours and speculation continue that Albion have an agreement in place to sign him on a permanent basis if Birmingham fail to win promotion at the end of this season.
This is not the case. Wishful thinking, certainly.
Albion are keen to keep him for longer but are powerless to prevent Blues from dictating his future.
If they are promoted they may be able to keep him, however, if they fail they may try to hold out for big bucks given their financial difficulties.
Either way, Kiely is appreciative of the impact Foster has made as the Baggies prepare to head north for their game at Wigan this Saturday.
“People that I speak to and people on Twitter all say to me ‘make sure we sign Ben Foster’,” added Kiely. “Let me make it perfectly clear, I am Ben’s No.1 fan.
“He’s a very good friend of mine and he’s a fantastic goalkeeper and I would love him to be a West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper for the next three, four, five, six or however many years.
“But there are a lot of factors to consider first. He’s a Birmingham player, and his future will be decided by a lot of factors, some of which are out of our control.
“But in terms of his goalkeeping, Ben is a fantastic goalkeeper and a top Premier League player.”