Race on for Patrick McEleney's signature with Glentoran, Larne, Linfield and Derry City alerted

Patrick McEleney could be on his way out of Oriel Park in the coming months.Patrick McEleney could be on his way out of Oriel Park in the coming months.
Patrick McEleney could be on his way out of Oriel Park in the coming months.
THE RACE for Patrick ‘Fats’ McEleney’s signature is heating up with several League of Ireland and Irish League clubs currently in hot pursuit of Dundalk’s talented playmaker.

Speculation is mounting that the 28 year-old Shantallow man, who becomes a free agent next January, will be on his way out of Oriel Park at the end of the season with the player understood to be reluctant to sign an extension.

In fact the in-demand player, who is free to talk to clubs from July 1st, could potentially leave Oriel Park as early as next month’s summer transfer window with a host of clubs currently circling.

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Derry City and Finn Harps are both understood to be closely monitoring the situation with sources close to the player suggesting McEleney’s family are keen on returning home to the north west after almost six years and two spells with the Co. Louth outfit.

McEleney, who left Brandywell to join the Lilywhites in 2015 after 225 appearances for his hometown club, is known to be a keen admirer of Candy Stripes boss Ruaidhri Higgins whom he played alongside at Derry and Dundalk where he also worked under him.

However, there has been significant interest from top Irish League clubs Glentoran, Larne and Linfield who have all been alerted to his availability at the end of the season.

Indeed there will be no shortage of options for the former Sunderland and Oldham Athletic attacker who is likely to be the next high profile player to exit Dundalk, following in the footsteps of skipper, Chris Shields who bids farewell tonight when Derry arrive at Oriel.

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Dundalk boss Vinny Perth this week claimed ‘everything is up for grabs’ with regards to the club’s transfer business.

“There’s interest in players at Dundalk, because they are good players and there’s interest in us bringing in some good players, so the balls are all in the air and we’ll see how they fall over the next couple of days,” said Perth.

“In the world we live in, if someone wants to make a bid for one our players, and if it’s something that interests us and we feel that we can bring someone else in for the same quality or better, then we’ll do it. But that’s not the remit I have been given, that we have to sell players.”

As for his Derry counterpart and former assistant Higgins, who is understood to be a long time admirer of McEleney, he is focusing on his own club but does hope to strengthen next month.

“Yes, Dundalk have a lot of quality players but nothing has changed at our end and we are continuing to work away in the background to see what might be available for us.”