SHAMROCK ROVERS are in discussions to sign Neale Fenn just three days after he announced his retirement from football and parted company with Dundalk.
Hoops boss Michael O'Neill was coy about the issue yesterday, but refuted suggestions that his club would be behaving improperly if they signed the veteran striker.
Dundalk released Fenn in good faith, with the 33-year-old citing "personal reasons" before his contract was terminated by mutual consent.
Speaking in a press release from the border club last Thursday, Fenn said: "It's just at a point where I couldn't go on anymore. I want to concentrate on the coaching, but it's been brilliant up here.
"I think once you finish, you might as well finish rather than making all sorts of comebacks. At the moment, I can't see myself coming back at all."
However, his availability alerted a number of other clubs who have made enquiries, with Rovers in the running. O'Neill chose his words carefully, claimed that any issue is strictly between Fenn and Dundalk.
"I am interested in signing a striker, there is no secret about that," he said. "And that's probably all I'm going to say at the moment.
"If that person is Fenn, and Neale Fenn is a free agent, then it has nothing to do with us. He is a free agent and that's the bottom line. If the player is a free agent, then he is eligible to sign for us by our understanding of the rules. I don't think we are exploiting anybody.
"That's between the player and his previous club. The morality does not exist on our part. But we have not committed to doing any business with the player."
Rovers believe they can go ahead and sign the player, although there have been difficulties in the past with respect to registering a player outside the transfer window who had parted company with another club before it closed.
Dundalk signed Keith Dunne as a free agent in February of 2006, after he'd terminated his contract with St Patrick's Athletic, but couldn't play him until July.