Linfield are edging closer to a deal which will see Portadown defender Chris Casement return to Windsor Park four years after departing.

The Blues first approached the Mid Ulster club in January with an audacious bid which was knocked back.

However, David Healy's side have persisted in their attempts to land the 28-year-old this summer and despite having an initial enquiry rejected, it is now thought the two clubs are close to agreeing a fee.

Casement would be the fourth Linfield arrival this summer, following Roy Carroll, Sammy Clingan and Cameron Stewart.

For Portadown, it would represent another high profile exit after the departures of Michael Gault, Philip Lowry, Marcio Soares, Chris Ramsey, Jordan Lyttle, Gary Twigg and Ross Redman.

David Healy is still keen to add at least one new forward following the departures of Guy Bates and Gary Lavery, with striker Aaron Duke - formerly of Dollingstown and who has left Dundee United - currently on trial.

Casement, who has 18 Northern Ireland Under-21 international caps, returned to the Irish League with the Blues in 2010 following spells with Ipswich Town, Millwall and Dundee.

Former Blues boss David Jeffrey beat off a number of clubs for Casement’s signature, but in his two years at the club, he struggled to nail down a permanent first team shirt and, after 47 appearances, he moved to Portadown -- agreeing a three year deal in May 2012.

Meanwhile, Ards have continued their recruitment drive ahead of the new season by signing French striker Guillaume Keke from Larne, alongside Cliftonville defender Fra Brennan and Linfield youth product Callum Byers.

Ballinamallard are also close to bolstering their ranks, with deals close for Finn Harps duo Ryan McConnell and Liam Flatley, alongside young Sligo Rovers defender Ross Taheny.