McLeish delighted by Zigic's early arrival for life with Birmingham

Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic will report for duty after only a mini-break following the World Cup to have time to adapt to the Premier League for the new season.

Zigic was part of Serbia's squad in South Africa but will link up with his new team-mates next Monday in time for City's pre-season tour of Hong Kong and China which begins on Wednesday.

The Birmingham manager, Alex McLeish, has taken into account that Zigic did not feature regularly for Valencia last season in deciding not to give the player a lengthier summer holiday.

McLeish, who splashed out £6m on Zigic, said: "He certainly didn't play as many games as the lads in our squad last season when, for a long time, we fielded virtually an unchanged team. He should be fine and in any case we've got to get him up to a level of fitness where he's ready for the Premier League."

McLeish, who has also signed goalkeeper Ben Foster from Manchester United for £6m, added: "We will be showing Nikola some of the footage from last season which should give him a good insight into what he should expect.

"The Premier League is rough, tough and, while Nikola is a big lad, the Premier League is hard in terms of aggression and that different style of football."

McLeish is adopting his normal stance of not discussing potential transfer targets but it is understood Marseille's Ghana winger Andre Ayew, who impressed during his country's run to the quarter-finals, interests him.

The Birmingham midfielder Keith Fahey has signed a one-year contract extension with the club. The new deal will keep the 27-year-old Irishman at St Andrew's until the summer of 2013.

Fahey joined Birmingham from League of Ireland side St Patrick's Athletic in January 2009 and has gone on to establish himself in McLeish's first-team squad, scoring four times in 59 appearances.

"Keith has proved to me that he's a Premier League player," McLeish said. "Having had trials that didn't work out perhaps the way he would have wanted to at clubs when he was younger, he is a brilliant example to young players in that if at first you don't succeed you should try and try again. He got a second chance and he has grabbed it. His is an inspirational story."

Fahey's first foray into English football began with a unsuccessful spell as a trainee at Arsenal before an ill-fated switch to Aston Villa in 2000 that brought just one first-team outing. He subsequently returned to the Irish league before Birmingham offered him a second opportunity to make his mark in England.

"Keith is a brilliant lad who is well-liked and is a great professional," McLeish added. "All of those qualities make him a manager's dream but it shouldn't be forgotten that he's a very good footballer too."

Dublin-born Fahey's impressive form in the Premier League led to him being handed his first senior cap for the Republic of Ireland in a friendly win against Paraguay at the end of May.

Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion have confirmed their interest in signing striker Frédéric Piquionne who played a major role in Portsmouth reaching last season's FA Cup final. The 31-year-old Lyon player spent the 2009-10 campaign on loan at Fratton Park and scored 10 goals in all competitions. They included two against Birmingham in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and another in the shock success over Tottenham in the semi-final win at Wembley.

Piquionne has since returned to Lyon but Albion are keen for him to return to the Premier League. The club's sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth said: "Frédéric has got a couple of years left at Lyon and we've made an inquiry but there is no firm commitment. He is a player who has been linked with three or four clubs so he's not short of options."

Another ex-Portsmouth player, Albion winger Jerome Thomas, has signed a one-year extension to his contract which will keep him at the Hawthorns until the summer of 2012. Thomas made the move to the Baggies on a free transfer last summer after being released by Pompey.

Albion also expect more offers to be made for their midfielder Borja Valero who enjoyed a successful season on loan back at Real Mallorca, the club West Brom signed him from two years ago. They have already rejected a bid from Seville and Ashworth admitted: "I suspect we will get another offer between now and the end of the transfer window." Valero is back training with Albion but would welcome a permanent move back to Spain.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
footballFollow the latest news from tonight's friendly
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
All the people: Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree
musicThe Magic Whip, album review
News
people
News
Presenter Jack Nicholson and George Clooney pose in the press room after 'Argo' won the trophy for Best Picture during the 85th Annual Academy Awards on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood.
people
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
Scholars left shaken after ultraviolet light reveals faces staring at them from medieval manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell