Football

Portsmouth Vs Birmingham, Sat 16 Jan 2010

James rumours puzzle Grant. (©PAphotos)
James rumours puzzle Grant. (©PAphotos).

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant was baffled by talk of goalkeeper David James moving to Stoke and insists he wants to keep his relegation-battling squad intact.

The England international had been linked with a loan move to the Britannia Stadium for the rest of the campaign, but talks reportedly broke down over the issue of whether Pompey or Stoke would pay his wages.

James is believed to be one of the club's highest-earning players and cash-strapped Pompey, who are at the foot of the Barclays Premier League with four wins from 20 games this term, were rumoured to be keen to get him off their wage bill.

But Grant says he was not asked about the possibility of letting the former Liverpool man join the Potters and has been surprised by talk of the 39-year-old's departure.

"I must tell you honestly that I don't know what happened," said Grant.

"From my point of view, he was training with the team and nothing happened.

"He has trained and he trained the day before. There wasn't any problem and I don't know what was happening.

"He belongs to the team and I want him to stay in the team.

"I've heard many clubs want our players but we want to keep our players.

"We had 16 players in the squad on Tuesday and tomorrow, if everyone is fit, it will be 18.

"So we cannot give players to the other teams and we don't want to."

Grant confirmed James will be in his squad for the Premier League clash with Birmingham at Fratton Park on Saturday.

But he refused to be drawn as to whether he would replace second choice stopper Asmir Begovic between the sticks.

The Israeli said: "My target in any team I manage is that I will have difficulties to chose.

"Jamo is a very good player but Asmir did very well for us. He is a young player and has a great future ahead of him. He showed that we can count on him and he was great."

One man Grant definitely will not have available against the Blues is influential midfielder Jamie O'Hara.

The Tottenham has returned to White Hart Lane after his loan deal expired this Friday, with Portsmouth's transfer embargo prevented them from extending it.


Birmingham City



Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes Cameron Jerome is developing into a top class striker - but warned the former England Under-21 player will "come unstuck" if he thinks he is already the finished article.

Jerome will be looking to build on a run of four goals in his last five Barclays Premier League appearances against Portsmouth.

He has formed an effective partnership with summer signing Christian Benitez in helping City put together a 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

But McLeish feels there is still more to come from the player signed by his predecessor, Steve Bruce, from Cardiff during the summer of 2007.

McLeish told Press Association Sport: "Cameron, this season, has taken a lot on board and has got better and better but there are other things he can keep working on.

"Cameron and Christian have formed a good partnership and he has led the line the well. He is certainly a threat to defenders who worry about his pace and his power.

"When Cameron has got confidence, he can be pretty unstoppable - but Cameron has got to keep working his socks off.

"If he comes off the boil a bit, and thinks he is the finished article, that is when he can come unstuck.

"He realises his strengths and what he needs to do in games to be troublesome to defenders."

McLeish also wants Jerome not to start coming too deep to look for the ball and concentrate on his strengths of pace and power and running at defenders.

He said: "We are not actually looking for him to come looking for the ball. We would prefer him to keep going in behind defences because that it is his strength.

"I see other strikers come too deep and their forte is going in behind and, when they start coming towards the ball, you are wondering why.'

"They are obviously thinking they are becoming technicians and touch players. Cameron's game is about pace and power and getting in behind and being on the defender's shoulder."

McLeish has included new signing Michel in the squad for the clash with Avram Grant's side.

The midfielder became McLeish's first capture during the January transfer window in a #3 million move from Sporting Gijon.

McLeish has no fresh injury worries but Lee Carsley, Gregory Vignal, Stuart Parnaby, Teemu Tainio, David Murphy and Garry O'Connor are still unavailable.

end

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Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Premier League
Birmingham

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