Birmingham close in on Czech star Lakta

January 28, 2006

Birmingham are closing in on the signature of Czech Republic Under-21 defender Martin Latka who is expected to join on loan from Slavia Prague after the weekend for the remainder of the season.

Blues manager Steve Bruce has confirmed his interest in the 6ft 4in Latka who was also a recent target for Middlesbrough.

The 21-year-old is valued at around £1.7million but Blues are on the verge of striking an initial loan deal.

He spent a trial period with Boro during a training break in Marbella but the Teessiders decided not to pursue their interest in the Prague-born player.

Bruce said: 'There is a possibility that Latka could be joining us. He comes highly recommended to us, and he is young which is always a big bonus.

'It's not done and dusted yet but we are hoping he is going to appear over the weekend and that we can get something done.'

Bruce is desperate to bolster a defence currently lacking skipper Kenny Cunningham and Martin Taylor, with groin and ankle injuries respectively, and also made an enquiry for Portsmouth's Andy O'Brien.

He has been keeping tabs on Hammarby's Swedish international Max von Schlebrugge and Danish defender Michael Gravgaard. The FC Copenhagen player scored in his country's 4-1 win over England in August.

The injury problems in defence have forced Bruce to divert his attention from trying to bring in attacking midfielder Jason Euell from Charlton and striker Peter Lovenkrands, whose Rangers contract expires in the summer.

Bruce said: 'I would like to bring in two or three players in an ideal world but, as I've said before, we are not loaded with millions and millions of pounds and have to cut our cloth accordingly.'