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Football: Bruce defiant over signings; BLUES: Lowly position will not pose problem with transfers.

Byline: By Colin Tattum

STEVE Bruce today said he was confident that Blues' battle against relegation would not scare off potential new recruits during the transfer window in January.

The shattering loss of Brann Bergen defender Paul Scharner to Wigan Athletic was partly down to the respective league positions and Carling Cup progress.

And should Blues fail to glean anything from their next three Premiership games - today at Spurs (1pm), at home to Manchester United (December 28) and away at Chelsea (December 31) - they could be several points adrift of safety.

That could make a move to St Andrew's all the more off-putting.

"When we signed Christophe Dugarry, we were in the bottom four," recalled Bruce.

"Of course, people look at the situation and the challenge to any player coming in is: can he keep us up?

"That's the challenge we threw down to Dugarry.

"It is a problem with the position we find ourselves in, but we won't just give up hope.

"Not only did we get Dugarry in that January, but Upson, Clapham and Clemence came too. They relished the fight and I'm sure there will be others out there who will too."

Bruce said he would not signplayers for the sake of it, which is why the failure to land Scharner after so many months of putting in the groundwork angered and hurt him so much. "We have got to get in players who can make an impact and give the place a lift. They have got to have something about them which can inspire those around them.

"The one thing I am not going to do is just bring in players for the sake of it. They have got to be better than what we have got."

Much, as ever, depends also on funds and availability.

As usual, the board have been coy when asked about the amount of cash that Bruce could expect. And both Bruce and co-owner David Sullivan have stated he has to sell to boost his coffers.

A reported transfer kitty of pounds 10million is way, way off the mark. It is no secret that a striker with pace is a key requirement.

Bruce said: "Ultimately you are looking for someone to go beyond Emile Heskey on the pitch. That fits the profile of it.

"They are few and far between. Where are they, and when are they available?

"Good players, the top, top players, aren't usually up for grabs in January."

Striker Mikael Forssell (thigh) is Blues' main doubt at Spurs. Bruce may stick with Maik Taylor in goal and Martin Taylor in central defence

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JANUARY SALES... Manager Steve Bruce is looking to strengthen his struggling squad in the New Year; EMILE HESKEY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 26, 2005
Words:454
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