DERRY City have accepted an offer believed to be around £350,000 from Sunderland for winger James McClean.
City chairman Philip O’Doherty agreed the move with his Sunderland counterpart, former Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn after a series of phone conferences during the week.
McClean has yet to agree personal terms and that was the stumbling block to his move to first division Peterborough United last month.
But his wage demands are unlikely to stall a deal going through with the much bigger Premier Division club.
“It’s down to the player now, the deal has been agreed,” said O’Doherty yesterday.
“Obviously he is going to be a big loss to the club and on that level we are going to be sorry to see him go.
“But that’s the way the seasons and the transfer windows work out.
“Going to a Premier Division club is a fantastic opportunity for the young man.”
McClean, who has been named in the Northern Ireland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against the Faroe Islands, has been courted by a number of English clubs this season.
Wigan were one of a number of clubs who sent scouts to Dublin last weekend to see him in action for the Airtricity League against Celtic and Manchester City.
Derry agreed a fee of around £275,000 with Portsmouth, but the player was unable to settle on personal terms.
Everton were another club tracking his progress but Sunderland have now stepped in at the last minute to agree a deal for the 22-year-old.
McClean said: “The club have accepted a bid from Sunderland and now I’m looking forward to travelling over for talks next week. Sunderland is a massive club so hopefully this one won’t fall through.”
McClean played no part in Derry’s straighforward 3-0 victory over Galway United at Terryland Park on Friday night, a win which moved them to the top of the table.
Two goals from Eamon Zayed and a third from Patrick McEleney sealed the win to take Derry top with second-placed Sligo Rovers not due to play Dundalk until later today.
“A lot of people would have given us no chance of being where we are at the start of the season,” added O’Doherty.
“But Stephen and his players have put in a lot of hard work and they fully deserve to be where we are at this stage of the season.
“It’s a very exciting time at the club and we are right where we want to be going into the final third of the season.”
Gareth McGlynn, injured playing for the Airtricity League side last weekend, has been ruled out for six weeks and not until the end of the season as had originally been feared.
But Kevin Deery made his comeback from injury on Friday and played for 78 minutes.
“It’s naturally a blow to lose Gareth especially at this stage of the season,” said O’Doherty.
“But it is great to see Kevin back again and that will help to soften the blow of losing Gareth.”