BLACKBURN Rovers are on the verge of completing the capture of Republic of Ireland international defender Shane Duffy from Everton.
The 22-year-old, who had a loan spell at Burnley earlier in his career, will become the first player Rovers have signed for a fee this summer.
Reports last night suggested that the Ewood Park outfit were willing to pay their Goodison Park counterparts £1.5m for the 6ft 4in centre back.
That figure was unconfirmed as the Lancashire Telegraph was going to press.
But it is unlikely the initial amount will be anywhere near as high as that.
However Rovers owners Venky’s have given boss Gary Bowyer the funds to bolster his small squad.
Since the end of the 2013-14 campaign Bowyer has been restricted to two free transfers, in strikers Chris Brown and Luke Varney, and one season-long loan, in defender Alex Baptiste.
That left him short of numbers – particularly at the back.
But the impending arrival of Duffy, who has significant experience of Championship football after spending the majority of last season on loan at Yeovil Town, will help with that.
The move will come as a welcome surprise to Rovers supporters.
At his press conference ahead of this afternoon’s clash at Wolves (3pm) Bowyer indicated he would be mainly looking in the loan market for reinforcements.
But he did add that if a player came along at the right price like Rudy Gestede and Craig Conway – his last cash signings and his big successes of the January transfer window – that he would take his case to Venky’s matriarch Anuradha Desai, with whom he held talks in India earlier this week.
Duffy made 37 appearances for Yeovil in 2013-14 – including both of their matches against Rovers – before returning to Everton where he hoped to use pre-season as a chance to force his way into Roberto Martinez’s plans for the current Premier League campaign.
But with England internationals Phil Jagielka and John Stones ahead of him in the pecking order, Toffees boss Martinez has allowed him to make the move to the 1995 Premiership champions.
Duffy, who made his international debut in May, joined Everton’s academy in 2008 and has made 10 first-team appearances for the club.
He played one game on loan at Burnley in the 2010-11 season before spending a longer stint at Scunthorpe United in League One in 2011-12.
With Duffy on his way, Bowyer's long-held interest in Manchester United’s Michael Keane is likely to end.
Keane, who spent a successful loan spell at Ewood last season, is wanted by a host of Championship clubs.
But Bowyer is hopeful of making more additions before the summer transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday.
Striker Jordan Slew, meanwhile, has left Rovers to join Port Vale on loan.
The 21-year-old will remain with the League One side until January 3.