Birmingham throw book at Bentley, literally

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The Independent Football

David Bentley has escaped a fine for his act of petulance ahead of Birmingham City's derby with Wolves last Sunday but manager Alex McLeish literally threw the book at him. The club's rule book, that is.

The on-loan Spurs midfielder has been disciplined by having to face his own team-mates in the St Andrew's dressing room he deserted in anger after not even being selected as a substitute for the crucial fixture, but McLeish felt it would have been inappropriate to impose financial punishment on a player who was unaware of the club's regulations.

All Birmingham players are provided with a rule book on arrival at the club, but Bentley, who only joined the in January, was not provided with a current copy. "I won't be fining David for breaking club rules because he wasn't aware of them," said McLeish.

"I reminded him of the club rules which forbid players to leave the ground before the game in case someone has a problem in the warm-up. David realised, 'Oh yeah, I never thought of that'. He didn't get handed the rule book like the rest of the players do at the start of the season."

While Bentley has escaped financial punishment, his standing within the club and his hopes of earning a permanent deal there this summer have all but disappeared as far as McLeish is concerned. The manager does not want to handle high-maintenance players, especially one who has barely made an impact, apart from one impressive performance against Aston Villa. Bentley has been told by McLeish he has made little impression at the club.

McLeish insists any rift has been healed and Bentley will be considered for tomorrow's game at Newcastle and the following fixture against Fulham, before he returns to Spurs, because he is unable to face his parent club on the final day of the season.

"We have moved on from it. He has a couple of games in which he can participate. If he doesn't play between now and the end of the season he has made a contribution."

Birmingham are hopeful striker Nikola Zigic will return to action before the end of the season, but have ruled out any comeback for James McFadden. Zigic has been troubled by groin and hip problems since helping City win the Carling Cup in February by scoring the opening goal against Arsenal at Wembley.