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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 10, 2008

McLeish takes up Nafti option

Birmingham have taken up the 12-month option on midfielder Medhi Nafti's current contract.

And Blues manager Alex McLeish confirmed the Tunisia international will come back into the team for Saturday's home clash with Everton.

It means Nafti will now remain at St Andrews until the end of the 2008-09 campaign.

McLeish said: 'We haven't opened talks about a new contract, but we have told Medhi's agent that we would like to take up our 12-month option on him.'

Nafti will come into the side in place of skipper Damien Johnson, who will start a three-match ban for his sending off against Wigan last weekend.

McLeish believes Nafti is a shining example to any player when they are out of the side.

The former Scotland boss said: 'Medhi has been as good as gold. He's been a great example to the other players who go out of the team.

'He has shown a great professionalism and approached things in the right way - not that he is happy about being left out.

'He is a determined man who, like everyone else, thinks he should be in the team and I've got to applaud his team spirit and he now deserves his chance.'

Central defender Martin Taylor is facing three weeks out of action with the groin injury suffered during his comeback against the Latics.

It means the former Blackburn player could also miss the derby with Aston Villa on April 20 and the home meeting with Liverpool six days later.

McLeish confirmed: 'Martin has got a groin problem which will probably rule him out for three weeks.'

McLeish is set to bring Liam Ridgewell straight back into the side as Taylor's replacement after completing a two-match suspension for incurring 10 bookings this season.

McLeish said: 'Liam will come back into the team. He has been there most of the season. He is a good, young, athletic player and we will keep encouraging him to become a better player.'

Blues will make a last-minute decision on whether to risk striker James McFadden against his former club this weekend following his knee problem.

It will be a similar scenario with midfielder Olivier Kapo, who has been out for a month because of a hamstring problem.

McLeish said: 'There is a good chance that James and Olivier could be available, but we will leave it to our head physio, Neil McDiarmid, and his team. We will be guided by them.'