Birmingham need to keep star names to return to Premier League

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Alex McLeish has indicated that Birmingham need to avoid selling their star players if they want the best opportunity of securing immediate promotion back to the Premier League next season.

Defeat at Tottenham meant that Birmingham filled the final relegation spot and thoughts will now turn to assembling a squad strong enough in the Championship next season to bounce straight back.

Birmingham’s odds are 9/4 to be promoted next season after being relegated for the third time in six campaigns and much will depend on finding a goalscorer and keeping hold of at least some of their leading assets.

Goalkeeper Ben Foster is perhaps their most saleable asset and has been linked with Birmingham’s local rivals Aston Villa, as well as Tottenham, while Roger Johnson and Nikola Zigic could also fetch decent money.

However, McLeish wants to retain the services of many of his best players as possible.

He said: “There will be a few that will leave but we have to build again.

“We have some players on long contracts. Whether we can hold on to them is something we will all have to wait and see about but to come back to the Premier League we need to hold on to the quality and maintain that quality factor.”

Finding a striker will also be essential for Birmingham as their lack of goals could be seen as the chief reason for their relegation.

Craig Gardner was their top scorer this season with eight goals from midfield and a striker who will score them close to 20 goals would prove a big benefit in the Championship, if they have serious promotion aspirations.

Cameron Jerome only scored nine Championship goals in their successful promotion season two years ago, with Kevin Phillips their top scorer with 14.

A £30 stake on Birmingham being promoted from the Championship next season would return £67.50. New customers can sign up here for a free £30 bet.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.