'Pool Target McCourt
Sky Sports News are this morning reporting that the Seasiders look set to make Celtic winger Patrick McCourt one of their first signings of the summer after launching a £500,000 bid for the player.
'Pool nearly signed McCourt on loan in January, but a wonder goal against St. Johnstone meant that then Bhoys boss Tony Mowbray changed his mind and elected to keep him.
However, a combination of injury and fitness problems and the appointment of Neil Lennon as caretaker manager - soon to manager on a permanent basis - meant that McCourt did not get a look in during the second half of the season at Parkhead.
And it now appears that the Scottish club are prepared to let the skillful winger leave, with the Seasiders apparently prepared to meet the SPL side's £500,000 valuation of him.
The 26 year old began his career in the youth team at Foyle Harps before earning a move to Rochdale.
His spell at Rochdale saw him break into the Northern Ireland team as well as catch the eye of several Premier League clubs, with Manchester City have a £1.5 million bid rejected for him.
However, a spate of injuries and lack of form under 'Dale manager Paul Simpson - who some 'Dale fans attribute with wasting McCourt's talent - saw the player released from Spotland in February 2005 (it should be noted that he was released by Steve Parkin after Simpson left the club).
Unsuccessful trials at Norwich, Crewe and Motherwell followed, until League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers made their move for him.
McCourt impressed for the Dublin club and when financial problems resulted in the side having to transfer list their entire side (bar McCourt, who they were desperate to keep), it was inevitable that the in-form wide man would be the subject of offers.
Despite interest from Bristol City and QPR, it was Derry City who signed the player for a fee of around £60,000. McCourt went on to pick up the PFA Irish Young Player of the Year that season.
More good form at Derry saw West Brom move for McCourt, with a fee being agreed between the two clubs and personal terms also being agreed. However, at the last minute, Celtic - who McCourt supports - launched a bid for him and stole him from under the nose of the Baggies.
However, due to fitness and injury problems (again) and the sheer size of Celtic's squad, McCourt has failed to establish himself at the club.
Despite this, when given the opportunity, he has greatly impressed Celtic fans, although many will not be too fussed to see him leave (if he does) given the concerns over his fitness.
Should the Seasiders complete a £500,000 deal for him, then it would equal the club's record transfer fee, paid for Charlie Adam last summer. Let's hope McCourt has a similar impact!
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