Fleetwood Town centre-half Cian Bolger is in advanced transfer talks with League Two club Lincoln City and a permanent switch is expected to be confirmed this week.
Bolger, 26, is out of contract in the summer and has been left out of Joey Barton’s last two match-day squads.
The giant defender featured in the development squad’s 1-0 defeat to Premier League Burnley on Monday.
He scored the only goal of the game in the wrong net on what looks set to be his final appearance in a Fleetwood Town shirt.
The Irishman, who joined on a free transfer from Southend in the summer of 2016, was offered a new Town contract last summer but turned it down.
If the transfer is agreed Town will receive a fee for the defender, who was subject to interest from Scottish side Hibernian in the summer.
Speaking about Bolger’s non-inclusion in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Oxford United, Barton hinted that the writing was on the wall.
He said: “I think the club is in a bit of a Mexican stand-off with Bolger.
“From my understanding, he is intent on running his contract down and going on a free transfer, which puts him in a limbo position.
“I said to him I cannot have a player who clearly wants to leave the club involved in the first team.
“You are either all in here and committed or you are not; if you’re not, then you need to leave as soon as you can.
“We can’t make everyone leave. It is not as straightforward as that.
“There has to be a desire to go and play football elsewhere.
“If Bolge decides he wants to stay, then we have to respect that.
“He is under contract and until he sorts it out one way or another he will not play football here.
“I would rather play Nathan Sheron or James Hill because they are committed to the club.
“We might suffer a bit of the inconsistency with those younger players but I know it will be through absolute commitment.
“I’m not saying Bolger is not 100 per cent committed but he has made it clear he does not want to stay at the football club.
“That was made clear before I got here and since I have got here nothing much really has changed on that.
“Players who do not sign contracts and again he is in that weird stand-off.
“It was probably fostered last January, when there was interest in him.
“I don’t know what went on because I was not at the club but that is something that has not been revolved since.
“How do we resolve it? There has to be a desire by both parties to do so. To be honest I’m not sure there is.
“I only want players at Fleetwood Town who want to be here. If you do not want to be here, then do not be here.”