Preston North End are closing in on a deal for Port Vale striker Jordan Hugill to strengthen the Deepdale strike force.
The 22-year-old, who was Vale’s young player of the year last season, has turned down a new deal with the Burslem outfit and is out of contract later this month.
But PNE will have to pay compensation for him as he is under 24, and they have been in negotiations with Vale in recent days.
Hugill is understood to have passed a medical and agreed terms with the Lilywhites.
It all now rests with Vale rubber-stamping the compensation figure.
They are keen to sign North End centre-half Paul Huntington and want both deals to go through at the same time – although it will not be a straight swap.
Hugill is also interesting a Scottish Premier League club.
If he was to go north of the border, that would be classed as an international transfer and Vale would not be entitled to compensation.
So it would be in their interests to seal the deal with Preston. Another option would be to go to a tribunal.
Hugill was a latecomer to the professional game, only joining Vale last summer from Northern League side Marske United after a trial spell.
The Middlesbrough-born front man started his career with Seaham Red Star.
He attracted the attention of Sunderland and was due to join them on trial, only to suffer an ankle injury.
Hugill was later to spend time at the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain. On his return to England he played for Whitby Town and then joined Marske.
Vale loaned Hugill to Gateshead for two months in order for him to get first-team experience. He responded with five goals in seven appearances for the Conference side.
On his return to Vale Park, he made his Valiants’ debut in October.
And Hugill found the net for the first time in their colours in a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury the following month.
His second Vale goal was in their 3-2 defeat to PNE at Deepdale on New Year’s Day.
Vale boss Micky Adams has expressed his disappointment at Hugill’s decision to reject a new contract.
Adams said: “After the part we played in the last year of getting him to where he is and getting him noticed, we look like losing out on him.
“That is football. Yes I am disappointed but after discussions with his agent it looks like he will be moving.
“We spent a lot of time and effort with Jordan last season but we will have to accept it. Nobody ever has to sign at a club.
“He obviously thinks it is better to move elsewhere, or his agent does.”
Meanwhile, Preston have been drawn away to Rochdale in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
PNE will travel to Spotland during the week beginning August 11.
The clubs are no strangers, having played a pre-season friendly last July.