michel has time to gel

LONDON - Miguel Marcos Michel, the Spanish midfielder who has become Birmingham's first signing since Carson Yeung's takeover of the club, will not be rushed into Premier League action, Blues boss Alex McLeish has signalled.

LONDON - Miguel Marcos Michel, the Spanish midfielder who has become Birmingham's first signing since Carson Yeung's takeover of the club, will not be rushed into Premier League action, Blues boss Alex McLeish has signalled.

Michel, 24, who completed a £3million (R35,3million) transfer from Sporting Gijon on Monday, faces a battle to establish himself in a midfield in which experienced pair Barry Ferguson and Lee Bowyer have been outstanding in Birmingham's 13-match unbeaten run.

And McLeish believes his newest recruit will need time to settle into English life and football.

"Sometimes it's not easy for a player, especially coming from a foreign country, to come in and hit the ground running," the former Scotland boss said.

"He'll need time to get to know his teammates and see the sort of demands we ask from players in training.

"We can also see if we can add a wee bit to his game and improve him all round as a player.

"But the bonus is that because we're doing so well, he has got additional time to settle."

McLeish first attempted to sign Michel before the start of the season and he was relieved that Yeung's financial backing finally made the deal possible.

"I'm very pleased he's signed as I've been tracking him for over a year," the Scot said.

"I've added a player who is unfazed in taking the ball in any company.

"He's played at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp and has acquitted himself well, so he's a technical player who can definitely strengthen the squad."

Stoke have agreed to loan former captain Andy Griffin to Championship club Reading until the end of the season.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill, meanwhile, has assured Nicky Shorey, the former England full-back who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest, that he is not planning to offload him permanently.

O'Neill said: "Selling Nicky is not something that I am looking to do at this minute and nothing concrete has developed.

"If there was an offer, I would sit down with Nicky and his agent to discuss it but I am not actively seeking (to sell him)." - Sapa-AFP

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