Championship clubs Nottingham Forest and Stoke City are in discussions over a potential swap deal between left-footers Ben Osborn and James McClean, according to the Daily Mirror.
Both sides hoped to be in the Championship promotion discussion before the season started and the fact that they have both recently changed their manager reflects the fact that has not exactly gone to plan so far.
And as Martin O’Neill and Nathan Jones set about reshaping their respective squads ahead of a renewed assault on the play-off spots, they may reportedly be able to strike a deal that helps both sides out.
McClean is apparently not the only Potters player O’Neill wants to bring to the City Ground, as he also wants Dutch defender Erik Pieters in to replace the recently-departed Danny Fox.
The obvious question to ask is; which side would come out of the potential exchange with the better deal? McClean has worked with O’Neill with both Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland, and is clearly a fan.
But at 29, he represents a short-term option, and one that hasn’t pulled up many trees in the second tier this season.
Meanwhile, Osborn is talented yet inconsistent, but he has plenty of room to grow and is of course a product of Forest’s famous academy.
It does not seem worth sacrificing Osborn – who is capable of rare magical moments – for the sake of McClean’s solid, unspectacular style.