Valiants’ manager Neil Aspin is reportedly finalising talks with Mark Sykes, the Glenavon midfielder, with a view to sealing a transfer deal that will see the 21-year-old joining Port Vale when the transfer window opens in January.
The young Northern Irelander Sykes who is currently a part-time player, also plays for the Northern Ireland national under 21 side. His recent performances both at club and national level have made him an attractive proposition.
Sykes is the latest in a number of young Irish League players who want to make the move to the professional English league football network.They can pose attractive, affordable propositions.
There is no doubt that spending breeds success, but clubs like Port Vale with limited finances have to work even harder to find the best deals – deals like securing the services of the bright, relatively unknown prospects who are going places.
Aspin was hoping to keep his discussions with the young midfielder under wraps until a deal was finally agreed. Unfortunately for him and Port Vale, Glenavon – Sykes’s current club, have aired the interest to the media saying that the youngster will definitely be moving in the New Year. They have done it in order to stir up general interest and maximise the value of possible offers.
On the plus side as far as Port Vale is concerned, the value of Sykes moving to Vale Park has already been agreed, which just leaves the personal details of the move – and that is what Aspin has travelled to Northern Ireland to tie up.
If Port Vale do end up signing Sykes, they will have sealed a coup. There has been much interest in the young midfielder with Scottish Premiership club Hibernian also being named. Glenavon’s manager Gary Hamilton has also revealed that the English Championship Level 2 club, Blackburn Rovers, are also said to have been watching the midfielder.
From the player’s point of view, Sykes is on record saying that it his dream to be able to have an opportunity to move across the water and begin playing full time. But he has also said that whatever move he makes, his aim is to get into first team football immediately rather than having to begin in a youth side and play his way through.
The youngster has high ambitions, but he is aware that he is already making a name for himself and he wants to make the move to get the opportunity to improve his abilities even more.
Sykes is a central midfielder with an attacking flair. He has been steadily honing his skills. In his first season with Glenavon, he only managed to score one goal. He went one better in the 2016/17 season with two. But last season he notched up nine goals, and so far this season, he has scored on four occasions including last Saturday.
He also scored the only goal in the match in October when Northern Ireland national U21s beat Slovakia 1-0 at Windsor Park.
If Sykes does complete the move to Port Vale, he has a lot to offer. He is rated as one of the best players in Northern Ireland. He can score goals from open play and free kicks; he two good feet – runs and dribbles well and is a good header of the ball.
If Aspin can agree personal terms, come January, Sykes could prove a significant new asset for the Valiants.