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Any Blues fans that think new boy Dwight Yorke is just along for the ride only need to spend a couple of minutes talking to coach Eric Black to allay those fears.


The former Coventry boss would shoot such suggestions down in flames having monitored the former Manchester United star on the training field. Black has been mightily impressed with the application of the club's latest acquisition in his first few days at Wast Hills.

"Anyone that witnessed his first three training sessions could not suggest that his hunger has gone. He is as sharp and committed as anyone else," he said. "Dwight's attitude has been excellent. If you ask him to do something then he gives it 100 per cent - he is an exceptionally good professional."

And Black also insists that the £250,000 signing from Blackburn is in peak condition. "I have got the report here from his heart rate monitor after the session this morning and it is exceptional," added Steve Bruce's number two. "He is a very fit boy and willing to work hard."

Yorke knows that he will have a fight on his hands to earn a regular place in the Blues starting line-up. Emile Heskey and Mikael Forssell are the club's current first choice strikeforce with Clinton Morrison and Stern John also providing tough competition. The latter two gave Bruce a reminder of their scoring abilities with goals for their respective countries last weekend.

Black reveals that Yorke's first team chances may not necessarily be limited purely to a forward role. "Dwight can play in an offensive midfield position or off the striker. He is a very clever footballer," he said. "He is going to be a good player for Birmingham."

It has been a quiet couple of weeks at Blues' training ground due to the international break but this does not mean that the players left behind have been allowed to take it easy. It is still business as usual for Black despite the reduced numbers he has to work with. He has been cracking the whip ensuring the likes of Emile Heskey, Muzzy Izzet and Julian Gray stay on top of their game. "We do plenty of ball work and make sure that the sessions remain competitive," said Black. "Then we will bring everybody back together again on Thursday and prepare for Saturday's game, which is not ideal but that is the way it is."

A number of Blues players will be in international action for their respective countries this evening. Black admits that this would not be the club's preferred preparation for their players ahead of Saturday's Premiership trip to Middlesbrough. "It is difficult but they are playing games so you hope that their fitness is good and they are doing enough training," he said. "Then it's a case of keeping your fingers crossed that they're not going to come back injured. "Obviously they are not used to playing two games in four days so there is a danger that you might get a bit of kickback from that."