Crusaders beat Linfield in race to sign former Bray captain Gary McCabe
Crusaders look set to sign former Bray Wanderers captain Gary McCabe.
Several Irish League clubs, including Linfield, have shown an interest in the player but the Crues are likely to win the race for his signature.
The 30-year-old winger negotiated his release from the relegation-threatened side, who have had sanctions imposed following financial difficulties this season.
The Dublin man is unable to join another League of Ireland club with the mid-season transfer window shut but Crusaders have made their move.
Linfield have been linked with the former Shamrock Rovers ace but boss David Healy will be content with his wide options including Joel Cooper, Daniel Kearns, Kirk Millar, Jordan Stewart and Lorcan Forde.
Bray's players went on strike in mid-July after receiving no wages since May 25.
The FAI then banned the club from registering any new players for the remainder of the season and removed Bray from the 2018-19 Irn-Bru Scottish Challenge Cup.
The players' strike was ended after a week as they received the wages they were owed.
McCabe had scored four Airtricity League goals this season, having netted 15 in 2017 after returning to his former club from Shamrock Rovers.
He was sent off in his final appearance for the club, a league defeat away to St Patrick's Athletic.
Crues boss Stephen Baxter saw a substantial bid knocked back for Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigle but he was able to bring striker Rory Patterson to the club from Derry City.
Patterson is hoping to score for the third consecutive game against Linfield at Seaview on Saturday after netting in the 4-2 win over Ards and 2-2 draw against Ballymena United.
Meanwhile, Crusaders midfielder Matthew Snoddy is licking his lips at the prospect of taking on Linfield in Saturday's Premiership showdown.
The Crues were held by the Sky Blues at the Shore Road venue at the weekend and Snoddy isn't prepared to play down the importance of this Belfast derby.
"It's going to be huge," Snoddy admitted.
"These games seem to be pivotal come the end of the season and this is going to be another one, another six-pointer."
Snoddy added: “You’ve got to win these games if you want to win the league and we’ll certainly be going out to win.
“We’ve sort of turned the tide in the last few years, when I was coming through at Crusaders you were always trying to catch Linfield and now we’ve caught them and now they’re the ones trying to catch us.
“There’s no doubt they’ll be fired up and ready to come at us before the games. It’s going to be a tough league, I think it’ll be the tightest league there’s ever been and I don’t see two teams running away with it like other seasons.
“I think there are four or five teams who could go on and challenge for the Gibson Cup this season.”
Baxter was disappointed not to bag maximum points on Saturday but he’s impressed with his side’s goal threat.
“I thought Ryan Mayse was lively the whole game and he’s a very astute signing for Ballymena,” said Baxter.
“He gives them something different but from my point of view the team didn’t lie down.
“We got the equaliser but just not the winner.
“On the plus side, Rory Patterson and Jordan Owens give us different options and you have to approach every game differently.”
Gavin Whyte, who moved from the Crues to Oxford United in the summer, opened his account for the League One side last night, netting their second goal in a 2-0 success over Coventry City in the EFL Cup first round.
Whyte looks set to make Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland squad for the Uefa Nations League match against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the friendly against Israel next month.