RODNEY McAree confirmed Derry City has made an approach for Coleraine midfielder, Ciaron Harkin with a swap deal involving Ben Doherty expected to be announced in the coming days.
McAree admitted he was reluctant to let Harkin leave but expects the player, who he described as being a 'massive Derry City fan', to complete his return to the Brandywell club for a second spell.
The 22-year-old played for the Candy Stripes before joining Coleraine in January 2017 and he soon became one of the Irish League club's standout midfielders as they challenged Crusaders for the Dankse Bank Premiership title last year while playing a key role in the club's Irish Cup victory.
McAree expects Candy Stripes' midfielder, Ben Doherty to make the move the other way after his successful loan spell with Glenavon where he scored two goals in 15 games since joining the Lurgan Blues last August. And should the move go through, as expected, the Coleraine boss insists he would be 'very happy' to add Doherty to his squad.
"There is interest from Derry obviously," confirmed McAree when asked about Harkin's future. "Derry have made an approach to speak to Ciaron Harkin. Ciaron Harkin is a massive Derry City fan so it's going to be difficult.
"He's a fantastic footballer. He's great to have around the club and one of the best I've had since I've come in. If he does decide to move on he'll be sorely missed. If he does move on then there's a hope that there's a player coming the other way who's a very good technical footballer who has done well against us in recent weeks and who can add to us as well.
"Ben Doherty is a great footballer," he added. He's played numerous games for Derry City as a very young lad. He's done well during his time at Glenavon so while I don't want to lose Ciaron Harkin, he'd be somebody who I'd be very happy with if he was coming in the opposite direction."
Doherty, who confirmed earlier this month he would not be returning to Derry City's full-time set-up after his loan deal expired due to work commitments, announced on his Twitter account on Sunday his loan spell at Glenavon had come to an end and expressed his thanks to the club.
"I would just like to thank everyone at Glenavon for having me on loan in the past few months as I got back to playing and enjoying my football again at a great club," he said. "I loved my time there and I wish the lads and Gary (Hamilton) the best of luck for the rest of the season."
Meanwhile, with speculation linking Institute's top scorer, Michael McCrudden to a move to either Derry City or Coleraine in the New Year, Bannsiders' boss, McAree insisted the player was one who he was interested in bringing to the club.
"I think Micky McCrudden is a wonderful footballer," said McAree. "He scored another two today and he's an exceptional talent. He's obviously somebody we would love to work with but at the moment he's an Institute player and I don't want to say too much because I don't want to disrespect Paddy (McLaughlin) but obviously he would be a player who would interest Coleraine."