Fog lifting on Baggies targets
THE fog is beginning to lift on West Bromwich Albion`s plans for the January transfer window.
Three targets have so far emerged, Czech goalkeeper Michal Danek, Slovenian U21 international Nejc Pecnik and South Korean international Kim Do-heon.
Preliminary discussions have already taken place, according to the players` representatives and/or current clubs.
Albion have been quick to distance themselves from much of the media speculation linking them to other players but on these three deals there have been no denials.
Obviously much work remains to be done to turn the interest into wrapped-up business and there`s always the danger that a cash-rich Premiership club will step in at the last minute to hijack one or all of the deals.
Attacking midfielder-cum-striker Pecnik is the latest target to surface, with his club NK Celje confirming the interest of an English club.
The 21-year-old is reckoned to be one of the hottest properties in Slovenian football and a move to The Hawthorns would make undoubted sense for the player, enabling him to team up with fellow countrymen Robert Koren and Bostjan Cesar.
Equally logical is the interest in 24-year-old Dank, with a move to B71 allowing the 6ft 5in goalkeeper to settle in to life in England with the help of on-loan striker Roman Bednar.
The two have progressed through the Czech national set up from their boyhood days, playing together at international level through various age groups.
I wouldn`t rule out a move for a central defender and two potential targets immediately spring to mind, Aston Villa`s Gary Cahill and Ryan Shawcross of Manchester United.
Cahill has just completed a successful loan spell at Sheffield United and manager Bryan Robson would dearly like him back, either for another loan spell or as a permanent signing.
He has made 28 Premiership appearances for Villa since making his full debut against Albion at Villa Park in April of last year.
Cahill has four England U21 caps to his name and though he is generally regarded as a great prospect, manager Martin O`Neill has still to map out his future at Villa Park.
O`Neill has confirmed he plans to hold talks with the 22-year-old defender, telling the club`s official website that Cahill will remain at Villa Park over the Christmas period and then discussions will start on whether he will return to the Blades or join another interested party in the transfer window.
Cahill`s future would seem to depend on whether or not Villa`s first-choice defensive pairing of Olof Mellberg and Martin Laursen sign new deals in the coming weeks. Both are out of contract in June.
Ryan Shawcross has made quite an impression during his loan spell at Stoke City, with manager Tony Pulis keen to extended the deal to the end of the season.
Shawcross, who is also out of contract at Old Trafford in the summer, is attracting the attention of a number of clubs and it is thought Sir Alex Ferguson may be prepared to let him go.
Albion fans will recall the goal he scored at The Hawthorns in the 1-1 draw against Stoke in October, one of six goals the defender has notched up in 20 appearances for the Potters so far this season.