Blues close on Jiranek deal

It is understood the Blues have lodged an offer to sign 20-year-old

Arsenal full-back Traore on loan until the end of the season, while

Birmingham are thought to have begun negotiations with Russian side

Spartak Moscow over a cut-price deal for versatile defender

Jiranek, whose contract expires in December. Traore, who saw a move

to Benfica fall through recently, is Arsene Wenger’s third-choice

left-back at the Emirates Stadium, behind France international

Clichy and highly-rated youngster Kieran Gibbs who made his England

debut against Hungary earlier this month. The Frenchman, who spent

last season at Portsmouth, is also believed to be the subject of a

bid from Juventus, who are keen to tie up a loan deal with an

option to buy at the end of the season. Towering defender Jiranek,

who can play at centre-back or full-back, would add further

defensive steel to a Blues squad currently riding high in the

Barclays Premier League after an encouraging start. Ben Foster,

Nikola Zigic and Matt Derbyshire have been the most notable

arrivals at the club this summer but Blues boss Alex McLeish has

been otherwise frustrated in his pursuit of signings to further

bolster his squad. McLeish has seen moves for Moussa Dembele and

Charles N’Zogbia fail to materialise, with the former opting to

join Fulham and the latter’s arrival from Wigan scrapped due to his

high wage demands. The Scot admitted earlier that he is keen on

adding fresh faces to his squad before tomorrow’s 6pm deadline. “We

are trying our best to bring people in to improve the quality of

the squad,” McLeish told the club’s website. “The near misses I’ve

had with Dembele, N’Zogbia and others, that’s unfortunate when you

see how good these players are but there are other ones out there

and we’ll try and add somebody before six o’clock on Tuesday.” The

Birmingham manager also revealed that the knee injury which

Sebastian Larsson sustained against Bolton on Sunday is not as bad

as first feared. The former Arsenal man had to be withdrawn deep

into the second half after a sturdy challenge involving Bolton

captain Kevin Davies, prompting fears that the midfielder could be

out for a considerable length of time. McLeish allayed those

concerns this afternoon. He said: “It’s Larsson’s knee but we don’t

think it’s as bad as we first thought. “We thought it may have been

a dislocated kneecap, something as severe as that, but it doesn’t

seem as bad as when he fell on the ground.”