Date: 16th February 2008 at 1:22pm
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Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish has explained how young Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate is being eased into the team following his January loan move from Qatari-side Al-Sadd.

The 20-year-old has made two substitute appearances since making the move last month, but the reputation he has in Argentina suggests he is capable of far more than the occasional cameo appearance from the bench – as does the winning goal he scored in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup last summer.

McLeish told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re trying to ease him in gently. If you look back to Tevez’s time at West Ham, it took him 13, 14 games. I know we don’t have that time, we have to get him into action a lot sooner.

“It’s just letting him get a feel for things, a feel for the pace and for him to see for himself and also motivate himself to believe he can make a difference when he gets out there.

“It would be nice to think we could throw him straight in and we’d get a brilliant return. But it isn’t as simple as that.”

More than a few eyebrows were raised in South American when Zarate left Velez Sarsfield for Qatar in the summer. However, by his own admission the move had more to do with creating financial security than anything else.

And even if Al-Sadd are not the biggest name in world football, they did still pay around £10million to secure the player – so he clearly has something, although the leagues in the Middle East are nowhere near the standard of the Premier League.