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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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McLeish aims to tie down Birmingham stars

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish will attempt to sort out the future of several key players approaching the end of their current contracts over the next few weeks as he looks to consolidate his side's, thus far, excellent return to the Premier League.

The likes of midfielder Sebastian Larsson - who has three goals to his name this campaign -and defender Liam Ridgewell are amongst those McLeish hopes will sign new deals.

Larsson has recaptured the form that saw him widely touted as one of the most promising youngsters around a couple of years while Ridgewell has made the effective switch from central defender to left-back.

"Right now, there are impending talks with some players'representatives," McLeish said. "Michael Dunford (chief executive) and I will get down to that in the coming weeks when we can have a good look at things and see which are our priority in terms of urgency and players contracts about to expire.

"We are pretty much covered because we have got contract options on all the players so that covers us if we can't come to agreements. In all likelihood, we would take up all the options although I am loathe to mention names in the media just now.''

Larsson was offered a new five-year deal by the previous board but talks were put on ice while the Carson Yeung takeover was completed.

McLeish is also to take a closer look at Slovakian striker Jan Novak, who is currently on trial at City from MFK Kosice. The 24-year-old has scored 39 goals in 90 games for Kosice during the past two and a half years.

McLeish confirmed:"We are looking to do more diligence on him. We are wanting to see some more DVDs of him playing at a higher level.

"We know he's done well in the Europa League against teams like Roma so we're looking to get those DVDs and also those of his international games.''

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