Andrew Davies’ Ross County contract must be ripped up in order for him to move to Hartlepool United.
The Mail has learned the former Middlesbrough defender Davies has one year remaining on his current Staggies deal.
Pools manager Matthew Bates is keen to snap the 33-year-old up ahead of an assault on the National League, but with his club unwilling to pay fees this summer, this contractual issue must be resolved before the situation can progress.
Davies will not make any decision on his future until he returns from a family holiday, but it is understood that following relegation from Scotland’s top flight, the Staggies are keen to trim their wage bill.
Sources up north suggest the club are receptive to letting some players whose contracts run until the end of 2018/19 to leave now, without a fee.
Were that to be the case, Pools could find themselves in pole position to bring in the ex-Southampton, Stoke City and Bradford City man.
Bates knows Pools will face stiff competition to land Davies, though, with the player being eyed by a whole host of clubs in the fifth tier.
But it is understood Stockton lad Davies is keen to return home having spent a decade away from the North East.
Signing a central defender is right at the top of Bates and director of football Craig Hignett’s wishlist this summer.
The club have opened talks with a number of targets in the position but Davies remains their No 1 choice to play alongside either skipper Carl Magnay, who has another year left at Pools, or new boy Myles Anderson.
Pools are also keen to bolster their striking options having allowed Rhys Oates to depart and with Devante Rodney close to a Salford City switch.
Meanwhile, former defender Jack Ross will bring his Sunderland side to this Vic as part of the Black Cats’ pre-season schedule.
Ross’ men will play Matthew Bates & Co on Saturday, July 14 (kick off 3pm).
Simon Grayson brought the then Championship outfit to the Vic for a summer warm-up as Sunderland ran out 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Josh Maja and Jeremain Lens. Ryan Donaldson scored for Pools.
This is the third part of Pools pre-season officially announced with friendlies against Billingham Town (a) and Middlesbrough (h) on Saturday, May 7 and Saturday, May 28 already revealed.
Hartlepool are expected to announce two more friendlies this summer, with midweek encounter expected as well as a game on the weekend of July 21.
Elsewhere, at the National League’s Annual General Meeting last weekend, a number of key dates were announced ahead of the new campaign.
So mark your diaries Pools fans - your fixtures for the new season will be released on Wednesday, July 4.
The league also confirmed that fixtures will begin on Saturday, August 4. A new three-year Vanarama sponsorship deal was agreed, which will see the company continue to sponsor the league.