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Michel move is not cut and dried says Eck; Reds target for Benitez.

Byline: Colin Tattum

ALEX McLeish today revealed Blues had not yet made headway with the possible transfer of Spanish midfielder Michel.

The Blues boss flew out to the Basque region on Sunday to watch the Sporting Gijon schemer in a three-team tournament.

McLeish sat next to Michel's agent Gelu Rodrguez, who has been trying to broker a deal.

Michel is due to face Blues on Saturday in a friendly at St Andrew's and no deal is expected to be struck before then - if at all.

McLeish said: "I've watched the guy, I don't think that's any secret.

"We've had Michel and a number of other players under scrutiny but there is nothing cast in stone with anybody yet."

Michel is rated at around 5.5 million euros by Gijon and is being courted by Valencia, Malaga and Espanyol.

"He's a decent player," said McLeish. "But, as I said, there are others on the radar. It's not cut and dried the board will give me money for that. But I certainly feel that we do need an injection of players for certain positions."

Following Fabian Delph's move to Villa from Leeds, interest in Craig Gardner could be rekindled.

All depends on whether McLeish can persuade the board to provide him with more funds.

There was better news on Christian Benitez, the Ecuador striker who is recovering from shoulder surgery. The manager said that Benitez could be fit for the opening game at Manchester United on August 16 after further assessment of his condition. Initially McLeish had stated it was likely to be another four weeks before he was up to scratch. "I wouldn't rule it out, the United game," said McLeish.

"We will have to look at him in training over the next couple of days but time is up now in terms of repair of his injury. "He's still a little bit weak in one or two of the exercises he has to work on, the weights, to strengthen the shoulder. "But he's ready to train and ready to join the group and I'm looking forward to seeing him in action.

"He's probably a wee bit away in terms of his overall cardiovascular fitness because he hasn't done much. "He's been training slightly. Butwe've checked his shoulder and I think he's ready to join the group. "We certainly could be doingwith a little bit of inspiration at the moment, and getting better sharpness out of the players. So I'll be interested to see how he goes."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 6, 2009
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