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McLeish rewards 'brilliant' fahey

Birmingham midfielder Keith Fahey has signed a one-year contract extension with the Premier League club. The new deal will keep the 27-year-old Irish international at St Andrews until the summer of 2013.

Fahey joined Birmingham from St Patrick's Athletic in January last year and has gone on to establish himself in Alex McLeish's first-team squad, scoring four times in 59 appearances.

"Keith has proved to me that he's a Premier League player," McLeish said.

"Having had trials that didn't work out perhaps the way he would have wanted to at clubs when he was younger, he is a brilliant example to young players in that if at first you don't succeed you should try and try again. He got a second chance and he has grabbed it. His is an inspirational story."

Fahey's first foray into English football began with an unsuccessful spell as a trainee at Arsenal before an ill-fated switch to Aston Villa in 2000 that brought just one first-team outing. He subsequently returned to Ireland and lined out with Leinster Senior League side Bluebell United, before signing for St Pat's. Birmingham then offered him a second opportunity to make his mark in England.

"Keith is a brilliant lad who is well-liked and is a great professional," McLeish added. "All of those qualities make him a manager's dream but it shouldn't be forgotten that he's a very good footballer too."

Dubliner Fahey's impressive form in the Premier League led to him being handed his first senior cap for the Republic of Ireland in a friendly win against Paraguay at the end of May.

Meanwhile, Birmingham have been dealt a blow with the news that assistant manager Roy Aitken will leave the club to join David O'Leary at United Arab Emirates club Al Ahly.

Aitken has a previous association with O'Leary, having worked under him at both Leeds United and Aston Villa

McLeish said: "Naturally I am very disappointed to lose an extremely valued member of Birmingham City Football Club. He is respected by everyone at the club. I have got a great relationship with Roy and he is well liked and respected by the players."