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McLeish hopes to keep key players

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Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish wants to hold onto some of his key players after being assured his own job is safe following relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

The Blues board acted within 24 hours of the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, which confirmed their fate, to state McLeish is the man they want to lead them out of the npower Championship. McLeish hopes to keep 10-goal leading scorer Craig Gardner, club player of the year Ben Foster and central defender Scott Dann who missed the second half of the season through injury.

In addition playmaker James McFadden, skipper Stephen Carr and defender Martin Jiranek are all believed to be in discussions with Birmingham over taking up options on their current contracts. McLeish said: "I will speak to the players. There are one or two that are out of contract and we have to decide what is happening."

He added: "Some of the guys will have other options and we appreciate that.

"The fact is we are in the Championship and not the Premier League and I'm sure they'll have choices.

"It's tough on us to be relegated but we don't lie down and bury our heads in the sand.

"We've got to get on with the next challenge. We've got to show leadership."

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The likes of Sunderland target Sebastian Larsson, Kevin Phillips and Lee Bowyer - wanted by QPR - are at the end of their current contracts.

Alexander Hleb, David Bentley, Matt Derbyshire and Obafemi Martins will return to their parent clubs after loan spells. Foster, Roger Johnson, Dann, Cameron Jerome and Nikola Zigic could be targets for Premier League clubs.

McLeish led City to promotion in his first full season, their ninth place finish in 2009-2010 was their highest in the top flight and this season they lifted the Carling Cup.


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