McLeish warns rivals over defenders
Alex McLeish has told Premier League rivals they have a fight on their hands if they want to try to sign either of Birmingham's centre-backs. 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," he said. "So bring it on. I'd be quite happy, but it won't be easy for any club to buy players from this club." 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." On the subject of his own contract, McLeish said that he was likely to sign an improved deal within a week. "Both parties hope to make an announcement very soon," he said. "It's looking good." Birmingham go into tomorrow's game against West Brom on the back of an excellent performance in their 0-0 draw against Liverpool last week. However, McLeish has warned his team he has no qualms about dropping players, even if they performed brilliantly the week before. He said: "The players did really well last week, but I can't promise anybody that they'll retain their place. I just can't make those promises. "I can make changes for different reasons. I don't go with the old adage that if you play well you stay in the team. But it will give you a really good chance, don't get me wrong." McLeish also spoke about his long-term ambitions at the club, which include bringing European football to St Andrew's. "I'd love to go to Europe," he said. "It's possible, but I still think it's early days for us to be talking in that way. "The most important thing is for us to establish a foothold in the Premier League in the next couple of years."
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