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BIRMINGHAM CITY have increased their bid to sign Lee Hughes from Division One rivals West Bromwich Albion.

The Blues are believed to have improved their original offer to £4.5 million, but they could face competition from Midlands rivals Coventry, who could move for Hughes if John Hartson leaves for Celtic.

Hughes, who has one year to run on his Albion contract, was made available for sale last week after rejecting the offer of a new deal.

St Andrews boss Trevor Francis failed with a previous bid of £3.5 million for the highly-rated forward, with The Baggies valuing him in the £7 million bracket.

Francis is a big fan of the former Kidderminster Harriers ace and would like to bring him to the club.

"I like the player - I think he is one of the best strikers in the league," admitted Francis.

"Every season he gets his quota of goals and he's only just turned 25.

"The chairman has asked me my opinion and I replied that if we were serious about winning the First Division, then we should go and buy Lee Hughes."

Meanwhile, Hughes has insisted he will give his all for the club until his future is resolved and admitted his ideal scenario would be to play in the top-flight with his boyhood idols.

"As the club disclosed on Friday, I have turned down the offer of a new contract at West Bromwich Albion, deciding to keep my options open for the present time," said Hughes.

"As a Baggies fan myself, perfection would be to play Premier League football with West Bromwich Albion. Therefore I will continue to give my all every time I pull on the shirt."