McLeish wanted AC for Scotland

McLeish was aware of Carroll being eligible to play for Scotland

via his grandmother being born north of the border. But he failed

in his attempt – as did current national boss Craig Levein – and

Carroll has since played for England, scoring his first

international goal last month against Ghana at Wembley. McLeish

said: “Andy Carroll has come on leaps and bounds and I did try and

get him to play for Scotland when I was manager. “I was aware that

he had got Scottish connections through his family. “He was about

19 at that stage, a reserve player really at Newcastle, and I was

quite hot on trying to get him to play for Scotland at that stage.

“But unfortunately he said ‘no’ and we all know what he has already

achieved in his career. “Certainly since he has gone to Liverpool,

he has formed a great partnership with Luis Suarez.” McLeish is

close friends with his former Scotland team-mate Kenny Dalglish and

is not surprised he has been an instant success since returning to

manage the Reds. He said: “He is a legend, he has already stamped

his mark on the team since going back in charge of Liverpool. “He

is a really great pal of mine but I’ve got to try and put one over

on him.” McLeish believes one more victory may be sufficient to

guarantee a third successive season of top-flight football for

Birmingham. But he is aware City have to cut out the sloppy goals

which led to their downfall in the 3-1 midweek reversal at Chelsea.

McLeish said: “The goals were poor we let in. However well Chelsea

did, the goals were rotten to concede. “It is well documented that

it has not helped us having an unsettled back four this season with

all the injuries we’ve had in that department. “But the lads have

to be determined not to lose cheap goals like that again. “When the

ball comes into the box, they have to win it. It is all about

honing their sharpness in that area. “But this should be another

game the players all want to play in and probably one more win

should be enough for us to stay up.” Blues will be boosted by the

return of centre-back Martin Jiranek who has missed the last three

games through a groin injury and an abdominal problem. But McLeish

is also hoping striker Nikola Zigic will be able to play some part

before the end of the season after his groin setback. He said: “We

would love to get Ziggy back at some stage. He is still feeling a

bit of pain but it would be good if he can contribute over the next

few games.” McLeish confirmed top scorer Craig Gardner would be in

charge of taking penalties after Sebastian Larsson stepped in to

take and convert the spot-kick against Chelsea. He said: “There is

no debate. Gardner will regain the duties. We had a bit of a laugh

about what happened on Wednesday but there is a seriousness to it

as well.”