Birmingham Vs West Bromwich Albion, Sat 5 Mar 2011

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Alex McLeish has pledged his future to Birmingham despite his reputation growing even further after leading the club to Carling Cup glory.

McLeish seems certain to be amongst the contenders when some of the big managerial jobs come on the market after three years of success at St. Andrew's.

He has led Blues to promotion, their highest ever top-flight finish - ninth - and now a shock cup success over Arsenal at Wembley last weekend.

But he is adamant he has unfinished business at Birmingham ahead of the Barclays Premier League clash with visiting West Brom.

He said: "I just signed a new contract after protracted talks and I am happy at Birmingham.

"It is a great start for me in terms of winning a trophy here inside three and a half years.

"It is something I never thought we could achieve in such a relatively short time but we are still developing.

"We still have a lot of work to do. With the right organisation and planning, we can go onto better things."

McLeish insisted ensuring top flight survival is the only thing on his mind when asked if he expects to be linked with other clubs.

He said: "I'm not even thinking about that at all. That couldn't be further away from my mind.

"It is possible (to be linked) but I've got other battles to make sure we win over the next few weeks and that is my focus.

"I know this game is so fickle that you are as good as your next result."

McLeish added: "It is not inconceivable we could have lost the Carling Cup and still got relegated.

"You can paint the picture whatever way you want but our goal has always been to retain Barclays Premier League status.

"If I get the titanic and heroic performances I saw last Sunday in the games from now to the end of the season, we believe we will be a Premier League team next season."

Midfield duo Barry Ferguson and Craig Gardner are rated doubtful for the clash with the Baggies.

Ferguson played the final hour of the final with a broken rib while Gardner suffered a thigh injury and was substituted just after half-time.

But winger David Bentley and defender Curtis Davies are available after being cup-tied against the Gunners.


Meanwhile, West Brom boss Roy Hodgson is expecting no Birmingham hangover from their Carling Cup success to take advantage of in the vital clash.

Hodgson believes Blues manager McLeish will have his side fully focused on the battle for Barclays Premier League points after the shock Wembley triumph over Arsenal.

Albion are just one point above the relegation zone but only one adrift of City.

Hodgson said: "It was a fantastic achievement by Birmingham last weekend.

"It is not easy for a club like Birmingham - or ourselves - to win trophies.

"Perhaps they will still be hung over - but I doubt it very much.

"Alex is an experienced manager and I am sure he will be preaching the importance of putting their cup triumph behind them.

"He will be saying they can only really enjoy that success if they stay in the Premier League and some of the gloss will be taken off it if they go down.

"It is a game both sides want to win. Birmingham are not safe from the threat of relegation and both of us are looking over our shoulder at the relegation zone."

Hodgson will be looking for Carlos Vela to continue his impressive form since joining Albion on loan from Arsenal.

Vela scored a last-gasp equaliser against Wolves a fortnight ago and did the same against Stoke in Monday's 1-1 away draw.

Hodgson said: "He has looked good. He is a very dangerous player to bring on in games.

"Teams do tire and he is very skilful and can score goals. He has proved that with the chances he has taken.

"But it will be more than the efforts of Carlos Vela that will be required if we are to survive.

"There are 10 other players and more who will have a big part to play."

West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans is a major fitness doubt for the derby as the Scotland international suffered an ankle injury in training on Friday.

Striker Peter Odemwingie sustained a knock to his ankle after appearing as a substitute at Stoke.

But he has returned to training after three days of treatment and should be fit.

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