Taylor close to Birmingham return

Birmingham City central defender Martin Taylor has targeted a return to first-team action by the end of the year.

Taylor has been sidelined for the current campaign because of ankle ligament damage.

But Blues boss Alex McLeish is confident Taylor will soon be ready to return to reserve-team action, although he may find it difficult to dislodge the impressive current centre-back pairing of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann.

McLeish said: “Martin Taylor is at a good level of fitness now and should be ready for the festive season or just after.

“He will be okay for a reserve-team game very soon and we will also look to organise one or two friendlies at the training ground for him.”

City’s on-loan midfielder Teemu Tainio has undergone a successful knee operation, but McLeish is refusing to put a date on any possible comeback for the Sunderland player.

The former Scotland boss said: “Teemu has had the operation and the surgeon is happy with the way it went. But I’m not putting a timescale on when he may return.

“It seems, every time I do that when a player is injured, I get it horribly wrong.”

Scotland striker Garry O’Connor is making good progress after undergoing a hip operation and full-back David Murphy is also not far away from being fit after rupturing a kneecap last season.

McLeish said: “We think we got over a bit of a hurdle with David last week and it is now just about pushing on for him.”