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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 17:20 GMT
Birmingham sign Upson
Matthew Upson in action for Arsenal during the Paul Fairclough Testimonial in July 2002
Upson is on his way to Birmingham

Birmingham boss Steve Bruce confirmed Matthew Upson will go straight into the team after the defender completed is move from Arsenal.

The Blues next play on 1 February when they meet Bolton in a Premiership relegation battle at the Reebok stadium.

It was a big decision for the lad but he wants to come and play regularly

Blues' boss Steve Bruce

But after sealing the capture of the 23-year-old to plug injury gaps in the centre of his defence, Bruce said: "With the injuries we've got in that area, he will go straight into the side."

Upson is the sixth player to join the Blues since the re-opening of the transfer window.

The fee is thought to be worth 1m initially and rising to about 3m depending on appearances.

Bruce was delighted to have added to his squad, which has been hit by injuries recently.

"He's young, he's quick, he's athletic and a good footballer," he said. "It was a big decision for the lad but he wants to come and play regularly."

I think Mr Wenger wanted me to stay at Arsenal, but I think it's time that I moved on

Matthew Upson

Upson admitted the prospect of regular first-team football helped him make a difficult decision to leave Highbury, after Gunners' boss Arsene Wenger expressed his admiration.

He said: "Mr Wenger left it quite open-ended. I think he wanted me to stay, but I think it's time that I moved on."

Leeds were reported to be looking at Upson as a possible replacement for Jonathan Woodgate, who has been linked with a move to Newcastle.

Upson had not talked to Leeds about joining the Elland Road outfit but knew both clubs had been in contact.

He said: "I think they've been interested. Personally we didn't have massive amounts of contact."

Bruce's playing career at the highest level with Manchester United proved a big attraction in joining Birmingham.

Upson said: "It's one of the things that I've thought about.

"Hopefully he can help develop my game which is important for me."

Upson joins Piotr Swierczewski, who has arrived on loan from Marseille, Ferdinand Coly, Christophe Dugarry, Jamie Clapham and Stephen Clemence as new arrivals in the past three weeks.

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 ON THIS STORY
Birmingham's new signing Matthew Upson
"I want to play first team football"
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce
"Matthew will go straight into the side"

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