Glentoran are favourites to sign Northern Ireland Under 21 international Bobby Burns, who has negotiated a mutual release from English League Two side Barrow AFC.
The Glens, where Burns spent last season on loan, are the heavy front-runners to secure his services, although they will have to see off competition from title rivals Larne and Linfield.
There is also interest from clubs across the border as Burns' successful negotiation of his release from Barrow ahead of the deadline for free agents has opened up the option of a move to the League of Ireland.
Burns is understood to be grateful for the support he received at the Oval last season as he worked with physio Gareth Robinson after suffering a double leg break early in his short-term stay. While he made his name playing at left-back for Glenavon - and even starred as a goal-scoring striker during a loan spell at Knockbreda - the Glens are thought to see Burns as a central midfielder as they build a squad aiming to win the league title for the first time since 2009.
The 21-year-old is returning home after a frustrating spell since signing for Barrow from Hearts last summer, brought in by former Blackburn Rovers star David Dunn, who has since left the club.
He sustained an ankle injury in pre-season and was sent on the short-term loan deal to Glentoran to regain fitness.
Disaster struck in late October when Burns suffered a double leg break during a match at Coleraine, a nightmare lay-off that ended his season.
Burns' return from injury is going to plan, having featured in pre-season games against Birmingham City (30 minutes), Bolton (15 minutes) and Nottingham Forest (60 minutes).
The Crumlin lad will now hope for an injury-free campaign and a bid for silverware while he continues his part-time Open University degree in maths and business management, which he is due to finish in 2023.
After that, his aim will be to follow in the footsteps of Northern Ireland striker Shayne Lavery, who returned to the Irish League after a spell in England and Scotland and starred for Linfield before earning a move to Blackpool earlier this summer.
Burns was called into the Northern Ireland senior squad back in 2018 while playing in the Scottish Premiership for Livingston on loan from Hearts. He went on to play 18 senior games in Scotland before moving to Australia and spending a season with Newcastle Jets.