Birmingham want Sutton to end goal shortage

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Birmingham City are poised to make the Celtic striker Chris Sutton their first signing during the January transfer window. The 32-year-old is understood to be close to agreeing a short-term contract with the struggling Premiership side until the end of the season.

Sutton's contract with Celtic expires in the summer and he is able to open negotiations with other clubs. The Glasgow club paid Chelsea £6m for Sutton's services in the summer of 2000 but at best are likely to recoup only a nominal fee if the player makes the switch to St Andrew's.

Sutton has averaged a goal every other match during his career north of the border but has made only 10 appearances during an injury-hit season.

The Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, does not want to lose the services of the former Blackburn player, who won a Premiership winner's medal at Ewood Park 11 years ago.

But he is aware of Sutton's contract situation, while Everton and Portsmouth have also been linked with a move for the Nottingham-born player.

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, is desperate to add firepower to his attack with Walter Pandiani and Mikael Forssell having managed just two Premiership goals between them in the first half of the season.

Sutton has a proven track record and also has the added bonus of being able to play at centre-half, which would provide cover for Matthew Upson, Kenny Cunningham and Martin Taylor.

The arrival of Sutton could open the exit door for Pandiani, who has been a target for Espanyol, although an initial bid of £1m was rejected.

Bruce has insisted that Pandiani will be allowed to leave only if he can bring in one or two strikers. The Birmingham manager has made a habit of freshening up his squad to good effect in the January window.

In 2003 he brought in Christophe Dugarry, Upson, Stephen Clemence and Jamie Clapham as City successfully held on to their top-flight status, having won promotion in 2002.

Twelve months ago he signed Jermaine Pennant, Pandiani and Mehdi Nafti on loan to telling effect, with all three going on to secure permanent deals last summer.