It is almost impossibly tight at the bottom of the Championship. Thanks to successive wins against Leeds United and Reading, Birmingham City have leapt off the bottom of the table and now sit one point above Sunderland in 23rd.
The Blues and the Black Cats are two of the division’s biggest sides, who have played Premier League football very recently, but look set to play a major part in the relegation scrap over the next few months.
The January transfer window, then, could be key to both side’s hopes of survival. And Sunderland appear to be eyeing two deals that would not only boost their own prospects of avoiding successive relegations, but could leave Birmingham right in the mire.
According to The Mirror (live blog, 7.36pm), Sunderland are keen on nabbing Maikel Kieftenbeld from St Andrews. The Dutch midfielder is one of the most important players in Steve Cotterill’s squad and has been instrumental in the recent wins over Leeds and Reading.
But he is out of contract at the end of the season so Birmingham are in a position where they have to sell in January or risk losing him on a free. Yet surely they should take the financial hit, rather than handing relegation rivals Sunderland a player who would immediately enhance their starting XI.
Furthermore, The Sun claims that Sunderland and Birmingham are going head-to-head for Cameron Jerome with Norwich City willing to listen to offers of £1.5 million. Despite struggling this season, the veteran striker is proven at Championship level and has 34 goals in his last two campaigns at second tier level.
As it stands, Birmingham are the league’s lowest scorers with just 15, almost half Sunderland’s tally. So they arguably need Jerome, who led the Blues to two promotions in his first spell at the club, a little more than Chris Coleman’s side.
But if Sunderland get their man, they will give themselves an excellent chance of pulling clear of the bottom, potentially leaving Birmingham choking on their dust.