Savage 'sickens' Birmingham

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Any prospect of a rapprochement between Birmingham City and Robbie Savage receded sharply yesterday after David Sullivan, the club's co-owner, branded the midfielder's attitude "sickening" and ridiculed his reason for wanting to join Blackburn Rovers as a "sob story".

Savage, 30, wants to join Blackburn to be nearer the Wrexham home of his parents, who he says are ill. The Lancashire club, whose ground is almost exactly the same distance from their house as Birmingham's St Andrew's stadium, have offered £2.7m, but Sullivan and his board are seeking £3.5m.

The multimillionaire publisher said: "Robbie is second only to Christophe Dugarry in my list of all-time favourite Birmingham players. But I find his attitude sickening and depressing. He signed a new, four-year contract, yet when offered more money by a rival club he thought he could ignore it and walk away on the cheap."

Sullivan added: "In the 12 years I've been here there's never been a player who has left on his terms. It has always been on our terms - and always will be. We've all heard the sob story about Robbie moving nearer to home, but the bottom line is that he signed a contract and should honour it."

Savage's on-loan team-mate Mikael Forssell has been sent back to Chelsea, his loan cancelled. The Finnish striker is not expected to be fit until April.

The Czech midfielder Jiri Jarosik completed his switch to Chelsea from CSKA Moscow, while Dynamo Moscow's Dmitri Bulykin has been given permission to speak to Crystal Palace. The Russian international, 25, has also been linked with Bolton.

Reading have confirmed the signing of the former England striker Les Ferdinand on a free transfer. Ferdinand, who left Bolton by mutual consent last weekend, has signed until the end of the season.

Blackburn have signed the New Zealander Ryan Nelsen, the second international captain to join the club in four days, following South Africa's Aaron Mokoena. Nelsen signed an 18-month contract on a free transfer from the US side DC United.

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