Blues boss Alex McLeish today looked to be paving the way for Martin Taylor's long-expected exit as he turned his attentions this wekeend to luring Villa centre-back Gary Cahill across the city.
That, of course, would then leave even less opportunity for Taylor to figure in his long-term plans. And having all but agreed Neil Danns' ?600,000 switch to Crystal Palace and toyed with letting left-back Mat Sadler join neighbours Wolves for ?1 million, it was clear that wheels were finally starting to turn at St Andrew's.
“Some players will have to be leaving, that's football, the nature of the beast,” McLeish told the Birmingham Evening Mail, after Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by title-chasing Chelsea.
All of which merely added to the growing sense of urgency in the Blue half of Birmingham. Given that their next two games are against fellow strugglers Sunderland and the seemingly doomed Derby, the ex-Scotland chief is well aware that Birmingham's season lies firmly at a crossroads – and he has precious little time to work out which way he is heading.
“I'm here to do a job very quickly,” he admitted. “I don't get time. I'd love to have spent more time with the players who are leaving.”
One of which, you strongly suspect, would have been Taylor. McLeish revealed earlier this month that he had never fallen out with the 6ft 4in defender; indeed, he sat him on the bench for the 1-1 draw away at Arsenal only for him to disappear again for the Chelsea game.
But with a deal sat there on the table that would allow Taylor all the first team football he wants in Norfolk and McLeish now busting a-gut to get Cahill on board, you sense that events were moving to an obvious conclusion.
Certainly City boss Glenn Roeder was making enough noises after the game on Saturday to suggest that iron was still aglow in the fire.
And should Cahill pop up in the queue ahead of Taylor in the next few days as McLeish looks to reunite the Villa youngster with his old Villa Park partner and pal Liam Ridgewell, then 'Tiny' may be even more of mind to book his own ticket out of St Andrew's.
“We would like to bring Gary here if we can, whether it's on a loan or long-term,” McLeish confirmed in the Evening Mail tonight.
“I saw him and Ridgewell together in their Villa days and I thought they had a good young partnership. They had that wee bit of hunger about them as well,” said the Blues chief.
“I've seen that in Ridgewell since he's come here. I see a very good centre-half in Ridgewell and I believe Cahill is of similar qualities. That pairing together I think would be a good force.”
McLeish has, it appears, spoken with Cahill's agent. And on the basis of one only going out when he's definitely got one coming in, then the outcome of that phone-call could do much to dictate the Taylor timing – providing, of course, that the Canaries remain the only show in town.
Villa are clearly not standing in McLeish's way as they give their permission for talks to advance – suggesting a ?4 million fee might be all but agreed. Even if there are one or two concerns about their own injury situation.
“I can speak to the player and I will advance that this week. I'll try and talk to Gary and his agent and we will see if we can progress it and what they really want to do,” said McLeish, as ex-City boss Martin O'Neill reshapes his own squad across the city.
“The bottom line is it's not in their hands or my hands,” said McLeish. “It is in Martin O'Neill's hands because Martin has indicated a sale would suit him, but he also has a few injuries and he has got to look at his squad first and foremost. We will respect everything Martin does in this instance – and we are still looking at other options.”
The second iron in Roeder's fire last week was, of course, his reluctant loan – a Premiership 'utility' player that the Canary chief steadfastly refused to name.
Given that he was given some frank career advice by a frustrated Norwich boss – that he should 'sort himself out' – the player concerned is probably rather glad that Roeder didn't go one step further and name names.
However, the name of Greg Halford did pop up on the rumour board; he did, in fairness, fit most of the clues that Roeder left in his angry wake.
If the 22-year-old, unwanted Sunderland star was intent on staying and fighting for his place at the Stadium Of Light, then that particular prospect might have hit a snag if Roy Keane's latest transfer target arrives on Wearside.
For the former Old Trafford skipper is now reported to have gone back to his old managerial mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, to see if he can't take right-back Phil Bardsley off his hands.
Bardsley has spent the first half of the season on loan at Sheffield United and Keane has, apparently, seen enough to try and nip in ahead of Blades' boss Bryan Robson and sign the United youth product on a longer-term basis. All of which, of course, would leave Halford even further out in the cold.
Hence one suggestion that that particular deal might not be wholly dead in the water.
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