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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

McLeish not ruling out Scots raid

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish
McLeish says he needs more midfield cover at St Andrews

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish has drawn up a list of January signing targets but will not reveal if any of them are currently playing in Scotland.

McLeish failed with a bid for Rangers striker Kris Boyd in January and has been linked with Celtic pair Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady.

"We have a lot of quality players on the radar," McLeish told BBC Scotland.

"We have irons in the fire; whether it's English players, Scottish players, foreign players, I can't really say."

McLeish managed Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers and Scotland before his move to St Andrews in November 2007.

Ferguson has been outstanding, he really has

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish

And there are several players in the Blues squad with experience of playing north of the border, including James McFadden, Garry O'Connor, Barry Ferguson, David Murphy and Gregory Vignal.

"There are certainly players in Scotland good enough to play in the Premier League; that doesn't mean I'm going to take them to Birmingham," said McLeish, who will have substantial funds from owner Carson Yeung, who took over in October.

"We've looked at our options and we're down to a shortlist, although it will be difficult to bring in the player or two that we really need to enhance the squad and maintain the spirit in the dressing-room.

"We do need to strengthen because I can't rely on Barry Ferguson being fit for the whole season. I can't rely on Lee Bowyer being fit the whole season.

"I have to cover myself with some extra quality and strong players who can play in the Premier League.

"But I need to get players at prices that are prudent and not sending us down the road to rack and ruin, as I've seen with other clubs."

Birmingham midfielder Barry Ferguson
Ferguson has impressed McLeish while with Birmingham

Rangers and Birmingham agreed a fee of around £4m for Boyd at the start of the year only for the prolific forward to turn down the personal terms on offer at St Andrews.

The 26-year-old is due to be out of contract in the summer, although Rangers say they have recently opened talks with his representative about extending his stay at Ibrox.

"We looked at Kris at that time," was all McLeish would say when asked if he was ready to rekindle his interest in Boyd.

"I'm not at liberty to say who we'll be moving for. That wouldn't be fair on players at other clubs.

"I won't be letting the cat out of the bag, so we can give our supporters something that's absolutely 100% certain."

One Scot who has made a great impression on McLeish is holding midfielder Ferguson, who joined Birmingham from Rangers for £1m in the summer.

"Ferguson has been outstanding, he really has," enthused McLeish, who worked with the 31-year-old during his time with Rangers and Scotland.

"He's not phased by any opponent and has a strong mentality; he's not thinking 'I'm playing against this superstar'. The better the player, the more Barry wants to show he can live in that company.

"With all his international and Champions League experience, he has shown he can compete at the highest level.

"The big question for us was does Barry still have the drive, the legs, the energy? I think he's proved that without a doubt."

McLeish insisted that he would not stand in the way of a possible international return for Ferguson, who was banned from playing for Scotland for off-field breaches of discipline.

The sacking of Scotland boss George Burley has opened the door for the midfielder to add to his 45 caps.

"I wouldn't want to stop a player playing internationals, but Barry is aware of the intensity of the Premier League," added McLeish.

"At this stage of his career, that could be a problem."

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see also
Blues must stay grounded - Hart
08 Dec 09 |  Birmingham
Boyd contract talks cheer McCoist
08 Dec 09 |  Rangers
McLeish 'baffled' by ban U-turn
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Birmingham get 40m transfer pot
15 Oct 09 |  Birmingham
Boyd will not accept reduced deal
06 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Blues end bid to sign Gers' Boyd
08 Jan 09 |  Rangers

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