BALLYMENA United striker Neil Lowry is currently on trial with Middlesbrough.
The 18-year-old homegrown player set off at the weekend for a 12-day stint at the English Championship Club.
Lowry, from Ballykeel, is a product of the club’s Youth Academy and broke into the first team initially under Roy Walker, before current boss Glenn Ferguson handed him a two-year contract last season.
“We were asked about it maybe a couple of months ago but we only got it confirmed last week,” said Ferguson.
“We have always said we would never stand in anybody’s way if they could get a move across the water so hopefully it will work out for him.
“There’s no doubting he has all the attributes – pace, power and a good touch but he is still learning the game and hopefully he can learn a wee bit more over there.
“Cross-channel clubs now look for big, strong players with a lot of pace and Neil might fit the bill for them.”
Ironically, the opportunity has arisen at a time when Ferguson was prepared to let Lowry go out on loan to gain more game time – 11 of his 15 appearances for the Sky Blues this season have been as a substitute.
“At this moment in time I don’t think Neil is quite ready for the first team but I think he’s too good for the Reserves so we talked about sending him out on loan to one of the top Championship teams to give him more playing experience at a good level.
“We had enquiries about Neil going out on loan. I asked him if he wanted to go and he said he would think about it but in the meantime this Middlesbrough thing has come up so that was put on hold.
“By the time he does come back it will be near the end of January so it might be cutting it fine as far as a loan move goes, but we’ll see how it goes,” added Ferguson.