McLeish refuses to spend big

Birmingham adopting cautious approach to this month's transfer dealings
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The Independent Football

ALex McLeish admits Birmingham City are becoming a victim of their own success when it comes to signing new players.

It is no secret that the City manager has between £20-£40m to spend in the January transfer window following Carson Yeung's takeover, with a host of big-name players already linked.

Reported moves for Kevin Kuranyi and Kenwyne Jones have hit the buffers due to the inflated cost of the packages involved. And McLeish, while being as coy as ever when it comes to potential targets, admitted the resulting situation is not easy.

"Yes, that is a problem for me," he said. "That's what I have to consider, is when we take the next step. I know that if Birmingham keep improving we're going to have to bring in players – wages will increase, players already here will want higher wages and new contracts. It's a natural evolution.

"I don't want to take too big a step at this moment because it would not be right."

Birmingham go into tonight's FA Cup third-round replay against Nottingham Forest riding the crest of a 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions while standing eighth in the Premier League.

Asked whether Blues' stunning form is having an impact on his attempted business, McLeish replied: "We relish that – that's the new challenge for us. Long may that continue.

"I'd love to continue being a victim of our success if this team can keep performing the way they are," he said. "I would probably need to bring four or five players in to get through that money. I'm certainly not going to spend it on one player because we're not ready for that step.

"There are a few clubs that are desperate for cash and we're aware of that as well. So prices can be inflated at the beginning of the month and they start to see sense towards the end of January." He added: "Some prices abroad are definitely inflated but the Premier League managers and clubs tend to know the market value for players.

"It's like buying a house – it's whoever is prepared to pay the money. But the Premier League is a tough place to buy players because when you're an established player prices tend to go up very rapidly."

While Birmingham's replay with Forest is due to go ahead three other third-round FA Cup matches fell foul of the weather. Brentford v Doncaster, Notts County v Forest Green and Accrington v Gillingham – none of which are replays – will be rescheduled for a second time.

One other first-time tie - Bristol City v Cardiff - and four other replays, at QPR, Derby County, Coventry and Portsmouth, were still on.

All three of tonight's Football League matches have also been postponed. The League One clash between Walsall and Norwich is off along with Bury's encounter with Macclesfield and Bradford City's trip to Aldershot.

In racing, officials at Ffos Las have ruled out a rescheduling of the Welsh Champion Hurdle. The contest was abandoned on Saturday but it had been hoped it could be slotted into this Sunday's meeting at the Carmarthenshire venue, but that has not proved feasible on financial grounds.

The cards at Newcastle and Leicester today have been abandoned, along with those tomorrow at Doncaster and Kelso. Thursday at Towcester is also off while Catterick is under threat. Officials at the North Yorkshire course will inspect at 8am tomorrow.

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