FORMER Sunderland defender John Egan looks set to join Blackburn Rovers although Southend United have yet to abandon hopes he will be back at Roots Hall next season.
Rovers have been heavily credited with an interest in the 21-year-old who has been released by the Black Cats this summer.
But Southend, where Egan spent February to May on loan this year, making 15 appearances, would dearly love to have the Republic of Ireland Under 21 man back on board.
Shrimpers’ boss Phil Brown said: “We’ve been told by his agent that he will be joining a club from a higher level but the door is still very much open for him here if he wants to come back,” said Brown.
“I would welcome the chance to sign him and he still hasn’t actually signed for anyone yet.
Egan might feel an emotional pull to the League Two side having helped them into a play-off spot last season and played in both their play-off games against Burton Albion which ultimately ended in heartache.
But the chance of playing Championship football will surely be too much to resist if Rovers come in with a firm deal.
Egan has played one Championship game in his career, during a brief loan spell at Crystal Palace in 2012 and will be eager to player at the highest level he can.
The defender was one of several prominent members of Sunderland’s Under 21 squad who were released at the end of last season - a list which included Louis Laing, Billy Knott, Alex Gorrin and Jordan Watson.
If Egan is signed by Blackburn, he will be set to come up against former team-mate Laing next.
Laing, another central defender once highly-rated at Sunderland, recently joined Nottingham Forest.