Carsley closing in on Blues return

The 34-year-old has been out of action since suffering the setback

in an FA Cup third-round clash with Nottingham Forest in

mid-January. Carsley played an important part last season in

helping Blues regain their Premier League status at the first

attempt. But he had been dislodged by the Barry Ferguson-Lee Bowyer

partnership during the current campaign before his ankle setback

and his chances of featuring have further diminished with the

January signing of Michel from Sporting Gijon. Birmingham boss Alex

McLeish said: “Lee is back to a good level and maybe next Monday he

might rejoin the group in terms of training and kicking the ball

again. “He’s been kicking it lightly, doing some running, getting

some stamina back. Now it’s about getting the sharpness back for

him.” But McLeish admitted that striker Garry O’Connor is unlikely

to return before the latter part of the campaign from the groin

problem which has kept the Scotland international out of action

since before November. He said: “O’Connor is a wee bit further away

than Lee. He is still doing his rehab. “He’s looking like the

incredible hulk, with the stuff he’s done in the gym. He’s

certainly got a lot of work to do in terms of his running. “He may

be back before the end of the season, but it’s going to be late in

the day, the middle of April perhaps.”