Blues boss Alex McLeish officially signalled the start of the race for Martin Taylor's full-time signature today by confirming that the 28-year-old was free to leave.
Even the fact that Arsenal boss Aresene Wenger has thrown a big spanner into Birmingham City's defensive works by insisting that on-loan Swiss centre-half Johan Djourou returns to the Emirates in January has failed to change McLeish's mind – 'Tiny' is still free to leave.
Or rather free to leave for the reported ?1.25 million that QPR offered for his services – a deal that was much to the liking of chief exectutive Karren Brady, if not to the player's.
“We've said he can leave,” McLeish told the Birmingham Evening Mail today. “He's down the pecking order and to be fair at this stage of his career it's the best for him.”
Taylor topped up his fitness levels with a 2-0 win over Banbury United in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Monday.
There he was partnered by one of the players now ahead of him in the queue – ex-Bolton centre-half Radhi Jaidi.
It was the Jaidi-Taylor partnership that did so much last season to get Blues promoted back to the Premiership at the first time of asking; this season and as Taylor has discovered to his cost, a new and improved deal in the summer counted for very little as ex-boss Steve Bruce pulled another of his Bendtner-like favours out of Wenger to secure Djourou's loan signature.
He also went across the city for Liam Ridgewell and added Rafael Schmitz to the pack – all of whom figuring higher on McLeish's pecking order than 28-year-old Taylor.
The fact that the Gunners are recalling Djourou will be met with some wry smiles at Carrow Road and Colney after this weekend's near-spat with Brady who seems insistent that Taylor is QPR-bound and that she never, ever had an offer from Norwich. All City boss Glenn Roeder had to do was pick up the phone…
Unfortunately, Wenger has picked up the phone – and it wasn't good news, either.
“I have spoken to Arsene and he has told me he's taking him back,” McLeish told the Birmingham Mail. “He said there's an official letter that's gone to the club, so I would expect Karren (Brady) has had that by now.
“Johan is a big presence of a boy, no doubt about that, and those kind of players seem to be a feature of many a squad in the Premier League.
“He will be a loss, for sure, and although I've not had a chance to see him in midfield yet, people think that's his best position. It's disappointing he's not going to be with us for much longer, but you have to respect Arsenal's decision.”
Like many a Premiership boss, the African Cup of Nations is about to rob Wenger of a number of his top stars – Kolo Toure principal among them. And with Emmanuel Eboue damaging knee ligaments in the narrow victory over Chelsea on Sunday it is all hands on deck at the Emirates.
It is a situation that Roeder himself will be monitoring very carefully. The assumption was, after all, that the on-loan Jimmy Smith would likewise be hauled back to Stamford Bridge by new boss Avram Grant for the same, African Cup of Nations reasons – despite Roeder's keeness to keep the 20-year-old in Norfolk for the rest of the season.
Likewise, given the long-standing friendship that exists between Roeder and Wenger – the former was strongly linked to a director of football role at the Emirates over the summer – you wonder whether or not someone of Djourou's ilk wasn't ear-marked for a trip to Norfolk in the New Year.
That possibility was further hampered by last night's Carling Cup quarter-final success of the so-called Arsenal 'kids' over Blackburn Rovers in their ill-tempered quarter-final clash.
With Wenger having all but already committed himself to keeping that same team together for as long as their Carling Cup run lasts, he will be loathe now to start splitting that team up ahead of their semi-final appearance.
Nor, given the team spirit on show, would one or two of the players themselves necessarily wish to leave now.
Either way, it is already shaping up to be a lively January transfer window with just as many players likely to leave via the back door as arrive through the front.
Ex-Rangers defender Ian Murray could be one to head home to Scotland after the 26-year-old found himself linked to a New Year loan deal with Falkirk.
Murray, yet to reappear after that 3-0 “non-performance” away at Plymouth Argyle,
has struggled to make any impression under the new regime after following Julian Brellier and Simon Lappin south under ex-boss Peter Grant.
Murray's agent, Jim McArthur, told the Daily Record: “Falkirk might want to take him on loan in January, but Norwich have said nothing yet on the subject.”
Roeder has already told No3 keeper Joe Lewis that he is going nowhere once his current loan deal expires at Morecombe, while the appearance of ex-Hearts favourite Brellier in newspapers north of the border this week suggests 'Le Juge' might be trying to work his own ticket home as he, likewise, fails to figure large in Roeder's thinking.