Belfast Telegraph

McLeish warns rivals over defenders

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has warned Premier League rivals they have a fight on their hands if they want to try to sign either of his star central defenders in January.

Both Scott Dann and Roger Johnson have won plaudits for their performances over the last year, with the former being linked to both Manchester United and Liverpool. But while most managers would try to play down talk of interest in their best players, McLeish dared clubs to table an offer for either of his all-English pairing.

"I think it's great that my players are getting recognition, because that means we're doing well. So bring it on. I'd be quite happy, but it won't be easy for any club to buy players from this club," he said.

McLeish added that he did not think the reported interest would make Dann take his eye off the ball.

He said: "I don't think Scott will get carried away with it because he's a guy who wants to learn and is blessed with leadership skills.

"I think he'll take it in his stride. The speculation should enhance his self esteem.

"He knows how I would feel about him if he all of a sudden became a prima donna."

With the injury problems that have beset many of England's centre-backs, McLeish said that both players have the potential to line up for their country.

He said: "Scott is younger and has a great chance of going further in the game.

"Roger wants it badly, he's got incredible desire. There's no reason why he can't be looked upon for honours."

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