Cunningham open-minded about Birmingham future

May 6, 2006

Birmingham captain Kenny Cunningham heads into the final game of the season at Bolton with an open mind over his future at the club.

The former Republic of Ireland central defender is out of contract this summer but he might well be persuaded to stay on board for another season at St Andrews when Birmingham will bid to make an immediate return to the Barclays Premiership.

The 34-year-old already has experience at a lower level and that could well be vital in Birmingham's aspirations to regain their top-flight status at the first attempt.

Cunningham has emerged as the elder statesman at Birmingham and his presence might be crucial to the club's bid to repair the damage inflicted when a terrible run at home at the start of the season ultimately sentenced them to the drop.

The veteran defender refuses to make excuses for Birmingham's demise.

He admits: 'Unfortunately, we were not good enough. The supporters could see what was happening week in and week out.

'People point to the fact we have had a lot of injury problems but other clubs have had their fair share of problems as well.

'At the start of the season we struggled at home and that has cost us. We managed to put that right in the second half of the season but it was too late as Portsmouth also regained their form.

'We may have beaten them 5-0 at St Andrews but suddenly they put together a string of winning performances and played with a lot of confidence.

'Importantly they also had a little bit of luck but this is what you need when you are fighting to avoid relegation.

'You have to congratulate Portsmouth. Once they found their feet they were a team inspired.

'After being relegated last Saturday this has been a very difficult week and to be honest we could have done without the game at Bolton.

'We have trained as usual but I have to be honest and say it will not be easy to lift ourselves for the match on the day.

'Far too much has happened to really be able to enjoy a game where there is nothing at stake.'

As for his own future, Cunningham will leave that up to the club to make the first move.

Manager Steve Bruce met the club's owners, David Sullivan and David and Ralph Gold, on Friday to discover what kind of budget he will have for next season.

Cunningham, one of eight players who are out of contract, said: 'I am sure the club will come to me if they have got something to say.

'But at the moment it is too early to talk about my future as we are still coming to terms with the fact we have been relegated.'