RONAN CURTIS looks certain to become Derry City's latest export after Kenny Shiels admitted he's resigned to losing the in-form striker to League One outfit Portsmouth.
The 22 year-old striker netted a hat-trick in City's 7-3 victory over Shelbourne in the EA Sports Cup quarter-finals at Brandywell on Monday night.
That first half treble took his season's tally to seven goals in all competitions and afterwards City boss, Shiels conceded the London-born player wants to leave to fulfil his ambitions of playing in England.
The Brandywell club had agreed a fee with Swedish club Ostersunds for Curtis last August but the deal fell through after he failed to agree personal terms.
And while Shiels had categorically stated that Curtis wouldn't be joining Portsmouth, it appears the player is determined to force through a move to the Fratton Park club.
"It's my club who will make the final decision on that but we hope to have him here for the summer," said Shiels.
"We want to work on the principle that when we exit from Europe the player can go which is the logical step. But I'm really not in a position to say what his position is."
Shiels had previously stated the St Johnston man would not be going to Portsmouth and advised him to change his agent, but it appears the player, who is due to fly to the south coast of England this week, has had the final say on the proposed move.
And the Candystripes supremo now insists the club will be supportive of the player who has been at Brandywell for five season as they look to get the best possible valuation.
"When you're a forward and you score goals and you're young you're looking at a lot of value there. Wheras if you're a full-back or a centre back it's a much different level of value. Ronan is a player who has a bright future.
"The decision is upstairs, it's not with me," confirmed Shiels. "I know how the game in England works. This club has got the tradition of accommodating players who want to get to the professional game in England and Scotland. Derry City have always been supportive of that so we don't see any need to change that. We will just have to rebuild again."