Transfers: Pardew plans escape, Vine signs
Charlton manager Alan Pardew has begun his rebuilding for the relegation fight ahead by clinching the signing of Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher in a £500,000 deal.
With the Addicks six points adrift of Barclays Premiership safety and boasting an appalling defensive record of 40 goals conceded in 22 matches, Pardew has brought in the 31-year-old while allowing fellow defender Djimi Traore to join Portsmouth.
The former Liverpool player, 26, moves to the south coast just half a season after joining Charlton - with the the London club suffering a £1million loss on the Frenchman they signed for £2million in August.
And Pardew is confident the arrival of Thatcher, who was banned for eight games earlier in the season for an horrific challenge on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes, will add to steel to the Addicks' struggling defence.
He said: 'I feel we are going to need a tougher, harder edge if we are going to get out of this - and I do not mean that in an undisciplined way.
'I looked at Ben, saw he was available and that he would improve us.
'We have conceded more goals than anybody else and I feel we need a bit more dialogue in the back four.
'Ben Thatcher brings great experience and spirit to the team, and strength. He is going to be the sort of character we are going to need.
'I just feel we need to strengthen up a bit and need a bit more experience of what the Premiership is about.'
Meanwhile, the day's biggest-money move saw Luton striker Rowan Vine join Coca-Cola Championship leaders Birmingham for an undisclosed fee, which is believed to be in the region of £3million.
The 24-year-old, who was also a target for West Brom, has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year contract which will keep him at St Andrews until the summer of 2010.
Vine became Blues boss Steve Bruce's first signing during the January transfer window after successfully passing a medical on Thursday afternoon.
Bruce has been desperate to bring in new blood up front given the injuries to Nicklas Bendtner, Mikael Forssell and Cameron Jerome.
Bruce said: 'We had the best goalscoring team in the country apart from Manchester United with Gary McSheffrey, Nicklas Bendtner, Cameron Jerome and DJ Campbell. They have been terrific.
'Now we have lost two of them and we have to do something about it.
'Vine has scored three goals against us this season. He is someone we quite like. He is a good player.'
Birmingham's Championship rivals Norwich have also moved to sign Sunderland striker Chris Brown on a two-and-a-half-year deal for £325,000.
Brown, 22, is set to make his debut against Plymouth at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Manager Peter Grant told the club's website: 'Chris is a big lad with great technical ability.
'It is rare to get the combination and he will offer us something different. He has great experience, but also great potential.'
On a busy day for the north-east club, striker Jon Stead also left the Stadium of Light to join Sheffield United for an initial fee of £750,000.
The 23-year-old signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at Bramall Lane and Sunderland could eventually receive up to £1.25million for Stead, who has been on loan at Derby for the last three months.
Derby had previously made their own offer for the former Blackburn striker which was rejected, but the Rams have wasted no time in moving on by capturing Scotland winger Gary Teale from Wigan for £600,000.
Teale, 28, was in the last year of his contract with the Latics and has also signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the promotion-chasers.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Burnley midfielder Micah Hyde joined League Two side Peterborough in a deal worth £100,000, while Plymouth took QPR's veteran striker Kevin Gallen on loan for the rest of the season.