EDDIE Johnson could finally become a Chester City player today as Paul Rutherford heads for the Deva Stadium exit door.
Midfielder Rutherford, 21, was yesterday given permission to speak to Northwich Victoria. If he agrees to join the Blue Square Premier outfit, his departure would create space on Chester’s wage bill for the long-awaited capture of striker/midfielder Johnson.
Blues owner Stephen Vaughan said: “If Paul signs for Northwich, then we can sign Eddie Johnson and he will be available for Saturday’s game against Barnet.
“Eddie has already agreed personal terms with us but his move is dependent on Paul moving on.”
Chester-born Johnson, 23, has been training with his hometown club for the last three weeks, scoring in a recent behind-closed-doors clash with an Everton XI. The former Manchester United and Crewe man has been a free agent since leaving Bradford City at the end of last season.
His transfer would have to go through by noon today in order for him to be available for tomorrow’s home meeting with Barnet.
Rutherford has slipped down the City pecking order behind Richie Partridge and close-season capture Ryan Lowe.
He had an unsuccessful trial with Bournemouth this summer but could now be on the verge of a move having been told his first-team chances with Chester will be severely limited.
Johnson isn’t the only player Chester are tracking.
They are eager to bolster their defence with the capture of a mystery defender with Football League experience and are also giving a trial to 23-year-old Frenchman Jean Louis Akpro, a striker formerly on the books of Toulouse.
It is also understood that City have not ruled out the possibility of handing a playing contract to 39-year-old Wayne Allison, who has been helping out as a coach for the past fortnight.
The transfer window slams shut on Monday but all the players Chester are chasing are currently free agents, meaning they are able to move outside the window.
The Blues are also keeping close tabs on developments at Ipswich Town, where Jon Walters is reported to have handed in a transfer request.
Chester would be entitled to 20% of any transfer fee Ipswich receive for the £3m-rated forward, who was sold by the Blues to the Tractor Boys in January last year.
Wigan, West Brom and Stoke are rumoured to be among Walters’ admirers. The player is keen to move closer to his north west roots.
City boss Simon Davies said: “The club itself has had contact with his representatives to see what the script is.
“It depends if the player gets his wishes or not. It’s another one that’s up in the air.
“Like most things in football, they can happen very quickly. Until it happens, we’ll just have to sit tight.”
More Blues news – page 54.