"VACANCIES" sign still up at St Andrews

Last updated : 14 January 2003 By Rags

Just how many beds are available though and exactly who will fill them is proving more than complicated........

Most likely to actually be arriving is Slovan Bratislava striker Robert Vittek who looks set to become Birmingham's fifth signing within a month.

Blues are close to completing a deal for the 20-year-old, who impressed manager Steve Bruce during a week's trial at St Andrews.

Vittek has scored 12 goals in 17 games for Slovan this season and is set to return to England tomorrow after the two clubs thrashed out a deal.

`We discussed Birmingham City's offer about the transfer of Robert Vittek in our board meeting yesterday,' Slovan president Viliam Fischer said.

`Vittek will have a medical and we will announce the details of our negotiations with Birmingham soon.'

But wait , there's more -------------------------

Birmingham boss Steve Bruce is considering adding Poland midfielder Piotr Swierczewski to his squad. The 30-year-old has linked up with Blues for a trial period and Bruce could sign him on a free transfer from Marseille.

Swierczewski, who has played for Katowice, Saint-Etienne, Osaka and Bastia, was a member of Poland's 2002 World Cup squad, but has fallen out of favour with the French club's new coach Alain Perrin and they are considering releasing him.

A plus point for Bruce is that Swierczewski, who was recently on trial with Everton and is rumoured to still interest David Moyles, has a French passport so he would not require a work permit.

Neither of these two though will fill the role of centrehalf which is Bruce's most urgent priority............

The signing of Matthew Upson from Arsenal is definately on ! and also definately off ! Depending on which side of the coin lands heads up at your favourite news source.

What is know for sure is that Birmingham have had a bid accepted by the Highbury board. This is understood to be an initial £1 million, rising to £3 million based on appearances, but boss Arsene Wenger would prefer the player to stay put.

Former England Under-21 international Upson had a successful spell on loan at Reading earlier this season and is keen to play regular first team football.

Upson was due to meet Wenger today and Bruce said: "We have had a bid accepted by Arsenal – I think that's common knowledge – and while it's a big decision for Matthew to make we have certainly not given up the ghost."

So if not Upson who? ...............

If Upson decides not to swap red for blue the it seems likely that Blues will attempt a second transfer raid on cash-strapped Ipswich.

Hard on the heels of their £1.3 million swoop for midfielder Jamie Clapham, Steve Bruce will test Town's resistance with a bid for Icelandic international defender Hermann Hreidarsson.

Interest in Hreidarsson was today confirmed by Ipswich boss Joe Royle, when he revealed that he has rejected several bids by Bruce to take the player on loan.

Royle said: "Birmingham have been on about taking Hermann on loan. They first asked several weeks ago and they have asked again, more than once, since then, including last week when we were working on Jamie's move."

Town are not interested in releasing Hreidarsson on a temporary basis, but Royle admitted it could be a different story if the Premiership outfit made a firm cash offer to take him to St Andrews.

The Portman Road boss, whose team are unbeaten in eight league and cup games, added: "We don't want to be selling another player when things are going so well for us in terms of results.

"But if the bid is right – and it would have to be right for this club – it would be considered. As things stand at the moment, though, there has been no bid."

Even if Birmingham make a firm move, Hreidarsson will take a lot of persuading to uproot his family. His contract runs for a further two and a half years, and he recently reiterated that he is in no hurry to quit Ipswich

Ah, but never mind because Duberry might come from Leeds in part-exchange for Stan Lazaridis, or Stan might just go for cash, or it might be the difference between the two plus a couple of curly-wurlys and bag of scratchings, or we might just sign the bag of scratchings...........

So there you have it, no-one knows. What is certain is that Bruce has plenty of ink left in the 'sign on the dotted line' pen and doesn't intend to put it back in the drawer until it's all used up.