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McLeish still harbours hopes for Johnson

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish admits he is running out of time in his bid to sign AIK Solna midfielder Dulee Johnson before the January transfer window closes.

Johnson impressed McLeish during a trial spell with Blues earlier in the month.

But any possible deal looked to have collapsed when Solna wanted a sizeable fee to make the move permanent whereas City wanted the Liberian international for an initial loan period.

McLeish has now hinted the deal could be revived but the January 31 deadline may come too soon for anything to happen now.

The former Scotland boss said: 'It is not dead. There are possibilities there with Dulee - but we are running out of time.'

McLeish is set to step up his attempts to sign Aston Villa central defender Gary Cahill after Birmingham matched Bolton's offer of between £4.5million and £5million.

He is aware City are short of numbers in that department of the side and, with Radhi Jaidi on international duty, has only two specialist centre-backs to call upon at present in Liam Ridgewell and Rafael Schmitz.

Birmingham are also giving a trial to Honduran international striker Carlos Costly, 25, who is currently playing for Polish side GKS Belchatow.

McLeish will hold talks with midfielder Mehdi Nafti regarding his future when he returns from African Nations Cup duty.

Nafti, currently on international duty with Tunisia, has been on form for Blues this season and formed an impressive partnership with Fabrice Muamba during skipper Damien Johnson's absence through injury.

His current three-year deal with the midlands club expires in the summer although City can take up an additional 12 month option on the services of the former Racing Santander player.