Manger Lee Clark defends decision to axe striker after poor effort in training.
Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic has been axed from the squad for Saturday’s match against Watford after manager Lee Clark said he’d turned in “the worst training session…I have ever come across”.
Towering Serbian forward Zigic still earns a reported £50,000-plus per week following Birmingham’s relegation from the English Premier League.
And he remains something of a fans’ favourite at the Midlands club after heading the opening goal in the 2011 League Cup final win over Arsenal.
Nevertheless, the 32-year-old has been used sparingly by Clark this season, making nine starts and 13 substitute appearances for a return of six goals.
But he will not get the chance to improve those figures when Watford visit St Andrew’s for a second-tier Championship clash on Saturday, even though he was in line to start because of Marlon King’s knee injury.
Clark said Thursday’s training stint had been the final straw.
“I witnessed possibly the worst training session in terms of a professional footballer I have ever come across on Thursday,” Clark said Friday.
“We did our preparation work for Watford and he (Zigic) was in the team. And I was disgusted when I walked off.
“I need to tell the fans before the game because obviously the social media network will go into overload because of this. I know he’s quite popular.
“But ultimately he’s a very well-paid guy and you’ve got to earn that,” the 40-year-old Clark added.
“And what he dished up yesterday (Thursday) was, since I’ve left school at 16 and been a professional footballer — not technically or tactically — the worst I have ever seen.
“And this is not the first time. This has been coming. Now, whether he has been angry he hasn’t been starting enough games over the previous weeks, that could be a point, it could be valid. But does that mean you just basically down tools, don’t try?
“I think the fans deserve more than that, the football club deserves more than that. I am an honest man and I need to be honest with everyone.
“And there will be people who disagree and say this is a crazy thing. But what am I meant to do? Am I meant to accept that, just let people do that? All the other players see that. Or am I within my rights as a manager?
“Whatever happens tomorrow (Saturday), I can sleep soundly in my bed because I know I have made the right decision, in how Lee Clark goes about the football work and his business.”
Zigic joined Birmingham from Spanish club Valencia on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee in 2010.
Now Birmingham run the risk of being drawn into the Championship relegation zone while Watford are in the race for a play-off place.