City boss Glenn Roeder this morning all but admitted that his lengthy chase of Blues centre-half Martin Taylor was drawing to close as the two clubs fail to agree a transfer fee.
The fact that Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has been unable – thus far – to find his own centre-half reinforcement hasn't helped Norwich's hopes of prising the 28-year-old out of St Andrew's. Nor, more importantly, has Karren Brady's valuation on the player which continues to test both Roeder's purse and patience.
He appears close to calling the whole thing off and looking again in the summer; he was, however, hopeful of bringing one fresh face on board this afternoon; likewise, he revealed he had “first refusal” on one of the few kids that Gunners' boss Arsene Wenger will allow out to play this spring.
“Martin Taylor is looking very, very doubtful,” said Roeder, speaking ahead of tomorrow night's Championship trip to Southampton.
Had McLeish managed to dig Gary Cahill out of neighbours Aston Villa, the picture might have changed. For now, however, the two clubs appear to have reached a stalemate – even if the player himself is still keen to come to Norfolk.
“I wouldn't be holding my breath about Martin Taylor coming here this week,” confirmed Roeder, with McLeish having long suggested that given his own lack of alternatives at centre-half he wouldn't be letting 'Tiny' out of his sight until a more than adequate replacement had been found.
“All I know is that he wanted to come here, but I don't think it is going to happen,” said the City chief, who confirmed that McLeish's lack of cover was an issue.
“It is part of the problem now, yes,” he said. “Although they still seem confident that they are going to, but that still doesn't make me confident that even if they do we'll be able to strike a deal. Not in this window, anyway. It might be something for the summer now.”
But would it be a position he would still look to strengthen, given that his own alternatives remained limited to Gary Doherty, Jason Shackell and the 38-year-old Dion Dublin?
“Yes,” said Roeder simply, confirming that he was hoping for one teenage crumb off Arsene Wenger's table this window. The Emirates chief had already ruled out the likes of Theo Walcott and Justin Hoyte coming out on loan as injury and their on-going interest in three competitions continues to stretch even his resources. The African Cup of Nations and a clutch of injuries has also limited Wenger's capacity to help.
“As far as I'm aware, they'll only let one lad out,” said Roeder, a long-time pal of Wenger and linked to a director of football role at The Emirates this summer.
“They've got a lot of injuries this year and they're still in plenty of competitions, so I don't think they can afford to let any out – so there's just one, very young lad that they might let out. And we've got first option on him.
“And he's a real youngster. But like most of those Arsenal youngsters, they tend to be able to cope with senior football at an early age.”
Kieren Gibbs and Mark Randell are two of Wenger's home-grown English youngsters that might fit the bill. Roeder has, after all, already bolted in the teenage talents of Ched Evans and Ryan Bertrand into his first team plans. Adding a third from North London would clearly hold little fear for him and would establish an on-going relationship with the Premiership title hopefuls that could then step up another gear again in the summer.
Whether that was the option that Roeder had up his sleeve this afternoon remained to be seen. He was still bullishly confident that come the midnight hour next Thursday there will be more fresh faces in the building. Given that he has already bundled six out of the exit door, he needs fresh legs. Of that there is no doubt.
As things currently stand, he does not plan on being stood over a fax machine at 11.53pm on the 31st. “If you're doing that, very rarely do you get what you want,” said Roeder.
“Mind you, at Newcastle 18 months ago I signed Antoine Sibierski 20 minutes before the deadline and it turned out to be the best free transfer of last season – along with Sol Campbell. But it's pretty unusual that.”
He was resolutely upbeat that what thus far has been a frustrating window – one big on promises, but short on delivery – was about to change for the better.
“I am confident – very confident,” he said, after revealing that he expected one new face in this afternoon. They may, however, arrive just too late for this week's trip to St Mary's.
“They could possibly be registered for tomorrow, but I wouldn't think of putting him – or her – in,” said Roeder, for once dropping no clues as to who his next target was.”
The one other good piece of news over the weekend was Daniel Sturridge's instant impact at Manchester City as the 18-year-old – only just back from a lengthy hip injury – grabbed an excellent goal in City's 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United yesterday.
He should, therefore, provide the kind of strike alternative that Sven Goran Eriksson needs before agreeing to let Ched Evans out on a full, window-to-window loan deal.