Nottingham Forest have fallen behind Stoke in the race to sign Hearts defender John Souttar, according to Lancashire Live.
The Reds are in the mix alongside several clubs to sign the Scotland star, with Rangers and Celtic also firmly in contention.
Souttar is out of contract in the summer and will almost certainly leave the Tynecastle-based club in January.
The 25-year-old has been in fine form this season. He has played 21 times for the Jam Tarts after getting over his latest injury setback.
Last month, Souttar scored his first goal on the international stage as Scotland beat Denmark to secure a place in the World Cup qualification play-offs.
Stoke have a trump card within their ranks. John’s brother, Harry, is already part of Michael O’Neill’s squad and that could play a big part.
Souttar does seem destined to play at a bigger club. He’s served his apprenticeship with Hearts, making 150 appearances for the club.
Now, he will go for a relatively small fee with his current club keen to avoid him leaving on a free transfer in the summer.
Forest are keen to sign a central defender in January. Steve Cooper would prefer a permanent addition, with five loan players already in the squad.
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At 25, the centre-back still has bags of potential and he could take the English game by storm.
The Reds enjoyed great success with their last purchase from Scotland, with Scott McKenna proving a quality addition.
Souttar would give the Reds’ rearguard an injection of quality and he’d prepare Forest for the eventuality of Joe Worrall leaving.
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Rangers and Celtic could still hold some aces but family ties with Stoke look like placing them in pole position right now.
There could be some more twists in this chase just yet and Forest may push hard to pip their divisional rivals.