McLeish has got it so good

PUBLISHED: 11:25 29 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:43 10 September 2010

Birmingham have a rich array of strikers in their squad with Kevin Phillips having scored in each of their three league games this season.

Birmingham have a rich array of strikers in their squad with Kevin Phillips having scored in each of their three league games this season.

David Cuffley

City boss Glenn Roeder's search for a top-quality striker to complete his team rebuilding job will be thrown into sharp contrast when Championship leaders Birmingham City arrive at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm) boasting a powerful attacking armoury.

City boss Glenn Roeder's search for a top-quality striker to complete his team rebuilding job will be thrown into sharp contrast when Championship leaders Birmingham City arrive at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm) boasting a powerful attacking armoury.

The Blues can call upon half a dozen top-class forwards as they bid to maintain the division's only 100 per cent record at the expense of the Canaries.

But Roeder has called upon his players to come out fighting and chalk up their first league win of the season before going into a fortnight's break for international matches.

He said: “I think even more so than West Bromwich Albion last season, Birmingham have the complete squad. They are so well covered in every single position and they have so much Premiership experience in that team and that counts for a lot.

“But it gives us an opportunity to rise to the occasion and I expect we'll have players in our team who will want to show our supporters they can play to the level Birmingham have been at in the Premiership.

“So although, to the outsider, they will be the favourites, I expect us to come out fighting and highly motivated.

“If I need to give a motivational talk before we play the team at the top of the table, there's a problem. Of course, I will do, but it shouldn't be necessary.”

With the transfer window closing at midnight on Monday, Roeder is continuing his hunt for a big striker to complement the less physical presence of Arturo Lupoli, Jamie Cureton and Omar Koroma. He knows his opposing manager tomorrow has no such worries with a line-up of forwards that includes Cameron Jerome, Kevin Phillips, Garry O'Connor, James McFadden, Marcus Bent and Gary McSheffrey.

Said Roeder: “The choice of strikers makes Alex McLeish the envy of every manager in the Championship.

“He has six strikers to choose from - two will play, two will be on the bench and two will not be involved at all.

“At the top end of the team you see goals and without the doubt the best player I ever signed in terms of value for money was Kevin Phillips, for £10,000 when I was the manager of Watford.

“He has earned himself a two-year contract at Birmingham and good luck to him. Already, he has proved to be a matchwinner. Let's hope tomorrow we can keep him quiet when he's on the pitch.

“As a person he is the most wonderful human being to work with. If every professional footballer had Kevin Phillips' attitude and motivation, being a manager would be a lot easier.

“When he plays a team I manage, he always says he's very grateful for being given the opportunity for me to take him out of non-League, but being the ultimate professional, he has to do his very best for the club he is playing for, which I am sure he will do tomorrow.”

Barring a late addition to his own group of strikers, Roeder will be hoping Lupoli can build on the confidence he gained from scoring twice in five minutes to earn a point in the 2-2 draw at Cardiff last Saturday.

Whoever plays in attack, they are likely to come up against one of last season's Carrow Road successes in the shape of former loan centre-half Martin Taylor, who Roeder was desperate to sign permanently last January.

He said: “Martin was the start of us getting things right on the strength of being much tighter at the back and less likely to concede goals and it gave us confidence to go and attack and win matches.

“If we could have got an agreement with Birmingham, he would have come here, but as hard as we tried, we just couldn't get an agreement and he went back there and played games in the Premier League.

“Unfortunately he was involved in the incident where Arsenal's Eduardo broke his leg but I got to know him very well when he was with us and that was just incredible bad luck, because if anyone accuses Martin of anything it is at times that he has lacked aggression and needed to be tougher. He would not go out to hurt anybody on purpose.”

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