Whitey Anderson will hold face to face talks with his captain Mark Stafford this weekend to find out whether a move to Linfield is about to materialise.
The Ballinamallard United boss is aware the Blues are keen on his talented centre-back but he hopes Stafford remains in Fermanagh.
Anderson hasn’t been able to talk directly to Stafford as he works in England during the week but he intends to press home how important he is to the team on his return to Northern Ireland.
The Blues are on the lookout for a commanding centre-back amid speculation Albert Watson is set to leave the club.
Stafford’s contract at Ferney Park is up in the summer and Linfield have made their move but Anderson is keen to stress: “He’s still our player.”
He added: “I’m hoping to speak to Mark this weekend. I haven’t yet had a chance to speak to him face to face about this.
“Of course we want to keep him at this football club. Mark has been with us for 18 years — since he was seven-years-old. It would be disappointing to see him leave, particularly when this club is hoping to build on our first season in the top flight.
“It’s been an exciting time for Ballinamallard and Mark’s performances have been superb for a number of seasons. He’s our captain and hopefully he will stay with us.”
Stafford may have come up through the youth ranks at the club to captain them in their historic first season in the Premiership, but the Mallards functioned pretty well without him in Coleraine this week.
A thumping 5-1 victory at the Showgrounds was one of the Fermanagh men’s best performances of a memorable campaign.
“It’s right up there as one of the best,” confirmed Anderson. “It was a great team performance, especially considering we were without Mark (Stafford) and Davy (Kee). There was pressure on us to perform to stay in the top six but everything went right for us and our 4-5-1 formation and counter-attacking approach worked.”