Neil Mellor is likely to become a Sheffield Wednesday player inside the next week to end the poker game over his future.
And Mellor’s pay gap could end up being filled by Preston as the bridge to completing his protracted move to Hillsborough - despite North End boss Phil Brown’s desire to keep him.
It has become normal for players offloaded from a wage bill to have part of the remaining balance on their contracts paid by their parent club - rather than the one they are joining.
Wednesday themselves have done just that to jettison Paul Heffernan and Darren Potter, freeing them for moves elsewhere.
So it is logical to surmise that the Mellor glitch has been less about the talks between the striker and Wednesday - and more to do with a stand taken by Preston, who have agreed a nominal fee for a player they can’t afford to keep.
Hillsborough soundings suggest the Owls won’t budge on closing the void by matching Mellor’s near-£10,000 a week Deepdale deal for his remaining year on current. Naturally, too, the player doesn’t want to lose out by moving.
It means pressure is mounting on Preston to grease the wheels. And it is hard to imagine that the transfer won’t happen soon considering all parties, barring Brown, want it to go ahead.
Certainly, too, Mellor is Gary Megson’s number one forward target after hitting 20 goals on loan last season. Wednesday will hope to have him on board in time for him to fly out with the rest of the squad next Tuesday for the pre-season tour to Austria.
Meanwhile, the club are open to moving on other fringe players along the same lines as Heffernan and Potter - providing interest is shown in them by other clubs first. That provides a negotiating point for the severance of contracts.
Movement in is set to remain slow, not least because of the difficulty in matching the salary terms of targets like Jason Koumas who, along with freed Coventry midfielder Michael McIndoe, is still on the radar.
Tommy Spurr’s £200,000 switch to Doncaster is set to be completed while Wednesday have bluntly rejected a Barnsley bid for Mark Beevers.