Torquay United have taken their summer transfer receipts past the half-million-pound mark with the sale of talented midfielder Eunan O’Kane to AFC Bournemouth.
The in-demand Ulsterman travelled to Dean Court for talks over personal terms and a medical examination yesterday, before sealing a £175,000 move to the Cherries.
United are believed to have accepted Bournemouth’s offer for the 22-year-old former Everton youngster a couple of days ago, but the final details of the transfer package could not be thrashed out until the npower League One club’s squad returned to Dorset from a Spanish training camp on Wednesday evening.
The sale of O’Kane by the Gulls followed the £300,000 transfer of goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to Peterborough United and the £75,000 fee that Crewe Alexandra paid for defender Mark Ellis, bringing Torquay’s close-season “windfall” to £550,000.
O‘Kane’s future at Plainmoor had been in doubt ever since he appeared to say “goodbye” to Gulls’ fans after the club’s League Two play-offs semi-final defeat to Cheltenham Town in May.
Bournemouth’s new League One rivals, Crawley Town, were the first side to offer the £175,000 which triggered the release clause in O’Kane’s contract last month, but the player turned that move down over personal terms.
There appear to be no such problems at Bournemouth, where manager Paul Groves is benefiting from an influx of Russian money on the board.
The Cherries are spending like never before, in an effort to lift themselves up to Championship level.
Torquay manager Martin Ling said: “There has been an expectation that Eunan may leave and I did plan ahead for life without him when he was talking to Crawley.
“I always felt, after the season Eunan had last year, that a club from League One or above would come in and pay the release clause in his contract. I would have loved to keep him but, in the same breath, it is a good move for him personally and good for our club financially.
“He has been a pleasure to work with and played every game for me. We all appreciate what he has done for the club and there are times when another club comes in that we can’t compete with financially, and that has been the case with Bournemouth.”
O’Kane played in United’s first pre-season friendly against the Royal Marines, but he sat out a 2-0 win over Tiverton Town on Tuesday, when he was reported to be suffering from a hamstring strain.
O’Kane is not the only United player who will be missing from Ling’s squad to face Neil Warnock’s Championship side Leeds United at Plainmoor tonight (7pm). Right-back Joe Oastler, who broke his nose against Tiverton, has been advised not to play, and he is about to become a father for the first time today anyway.
Saul Halpin has an ankle injury, while fellow winger Danny Stevens will be allowed to play no more than 45 minutes to guard against a recurrence of pre-season shin-splint problems.
Ling has already indicated he will leave behind the one-team-in-each-half selection that he has used so far, and his starting line-up may give the best indication of what he feels might be his strongest XI.