Doubts over Kuszczak as Monk re­builds from back

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Foot­ball Writer

GOAL­KEEPER To­masz Kuszczak has been told he can leave Blues, ac­cord­ing to re­ports in his na­tive Poland.

The 36-year-old was on the fringes at St An­drew’s last sea­son, un­der both Steve Cot­ter­ill and cur­rent boss Garry Monk.

Kuszczak did not play a sin­gle match after Monk re­placed Cot­ter­ill in March and he has been ad­vised to look for an­other club.

Sources say the for­mer Manch­ester United man is tar­get­ing a re­turn to the Pre­mier League, but is re­al­is­tic about his chances.

Kuszczak made 12 ap­pear­ances for Blues in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son, but he only fea­tured in Cham­pi­onship matches when first-choice stop­per David Stock­dale was in­jured.

He was rel­e­gated to the bench as soon as Stock­dale re­turned to the team in Novem­ber and did not play a sin­gle match there­after.

Kuszczak has made 92 ap­pear­ances for Blues since join­ing from Wolves in July 2015. The Pole has an­other 12 months left on his con­tract after pen­ning a two-year ex­ten­sion last sum­mer.

He also has an op­tion for a third sea­son, which could keep him at Blues un­til June 2020.

Born in Krosno Odrzan­skie, Poland, Kuszczak started his pro­fes­sional ca­reer with Ger­man club Hertha BSC. Gary Meg­son signed him for Al­bion in July 2014.

Capped 11 times by Poland, Kuszczak spent three sea­sons at The Hawthorns be­fore sign­ing for United.

He won three Pre­mier League ti­tles, two League Cups, one Cham­pi­ons League and a FIFA Club World Cup medal dur­ing his five-year spell at Old Traf­ford.

And Blues’ po­ten­tial pur­suit of Alex Smithies has been given a boost after it emerged QPR may be forced to sell the goal­keeper due to Fi­nan­cial Fair Play con­cerns.

Blues have been linked with the 28-year-old as they look to line up a re­place­ment for Stock­dale, who could be on the move this sum­mer in Monk’s first trans­fer win­dow as man­ager at St An­drew’s.

Smithies joined QPR in 2015 from Hud­der­s­field Town and has been the club’s first-choice stop­per for twoand-a-half sea­sons.

He kept seven clean sheets in 44 games for the Hoops last term and was voted player of the year the sea­son be­fore.

But the Lon­don club could find it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to hold on to him with the threat of FFP sanc­tions loom­ing.

QPR may have to let Smithies, fans’ favourite, leave to raise funds, is un­der­stood.

A source in Lon­don said: “The club are un­der pres­sure to get in line with Fi­nan­cial Fair Play reg­u­la­tions, while also hav­ing to deal with the ef­fects of a hefty FFP fine.

“This means the club could be in a po­si­tion to off­load their se­nior stars a it should the deal rep­re­sent good value for the club. For a club such as QPR, it may be a case that money talks, and if Birm­ing­ham or any­one else can meet the match­ing price of the Hoops, then a deal could po­ten­tially be on the cards.”

QPR are well-stocked be­tween the sticks, which would in­crease the like­li­hood of a suc­cess­ful swoop from Blues, with Matt In­gram and Joe Lum­ley ready to step in.

Monk has played Stock­dale in each of his 11 games in charge but will look to shake up the squad hav­ing steered the club through an­other rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle.

Mean­while, Blues are be­lieved to have made an of­fer for Dan­ish left­back Kris­tian Ped­er­sen.

Monk is work­ing on sev­eral deals as

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