Taylor secures permanent deal at Birmingham

Maik Taylor has spelt out his delight at tying up a permanent move to Birmingham City and insisted: "I always had faith in my ability to play at the top level." Taylor is experiencing his first full season of Premiership football and he has now completed a £1.5m move from Fulham after being on loan all season.

Maik Taylor has spelt out his delight at tying up a permanent move to Birmingham City and insisted: "I always had faith in my ability to play at the top level." Taylor is experiencing his first full season of Premiership football and he has now completed a £1.5m move from Fulham after being on loan all season.

The former Southampton player has signed a deal which will keep him at St Andrews until 2008. Taylor has played a significant part in establishing the Blues as a side who are still in with a chance of qualifying for Europe. Taylor moved away from Fulham despite being in the first team for the second half of last season when it became apparent that Edwin van der Sar would be first choice again on his return from injury.

The Northern Ireland No 1 said: "I'm very happy to stay full-time and it was never ever going to be any big deal in terms of agreeing personal teams. My family moved up to the area as soon as I joined Birmingham and it was going to go through just as long as we stayed up as the clubs had agreed a fee.

"I am enjoying it here. It is my first full season in the top flight and it has got to make you sharper playing week-in and week-out. Fulham went down the road of signing van der Sar which restricted my options there - although I was in the team for the second half of last season. But I always had faith in my ability to be able to play at the top level and it was great to come to a place where you feel wanted and part of things."

Mikael Forssell has hinted that he will look to leave Chelsea in the summer if he is not guaranteed regular first-team football - and that, too, could mean a move to St Andrews.

Forssell is currently on a season-long loan with Birmingham and his double at Middlesbrough on Saturday took his tally for the season to 16 goals. He would love to play a significant role at Stamford Bridge and he signed a new four-year contract in August. But the Finland international would not be content to revert to his former bit-part role with the Blues in 2004-05.

He said: "There's still three years left of my contract and I know that Claudio Ranieri likes me as a player. But I have always said that I don't want to go back to Chelsea just to sit on the bench. If Chelsea decide they are ready to play me, then that is a different ball game."

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, said: "On Saturday Mikael was a million miles above everybody else. He's a top player and we know that we have got to keep him. I am sure every Birmingham fan and all the people at the club know that as well and we'll do our utmost to keep him but he is Chelsea's player."

Meanwhile, the Bolton captain Jay-Jay Okocha has put contract talks on hold until the end of the season. He said: "I have decided to leave everything until the end of the season. I am still a Bolton player and I just have to focus on the remaining games and give my all. Then we will see what will happen."

The West Bromwich Albion midfielder Mark Kinsella has been recalled to the 22-man Republic of Ireland squad for the friendly against the Czech Republic at Lansdowne Road on 31 March. The Republic of Ireland manager, Brian Kerr, left Kinsella out of his last two squads for the games against Canada and Brazil because the 31-year-old was not enjoying first-team football at the time with Aston Villa. But a move to West Brom has had the desired effect.

Back after injury comes Hibernian goalkeeper Nicky Colgan at the expense of West Brom's Joe Murphy. Leeds United midfielder Stephen McPhail is also recalled.

Ireland squad, Digest, page 50

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