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By ESPN Staff

McCormack on brink of pre-contract with Wigan

Ross McCormack is poised to sign a pre-contract agreement with Wigan within the next 48 hours against the wishes of his adviser, but with an escape clause should the Latics be relegated.

McCormack has long been monitored by Steve Bruce, and it appears certain the Wigan boss has beaten Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate to the Motherwell striker's signature.

But the deal was criticised earlier this week by Fir Park manager Mark McGhee who insisted McCormack 'has higher to climb in the game than Wigan.'

Barry Hughes, who represents McCormack, replied: 'I read Mark McGhee's comments and was surprised.

'Wigan are a Premier League club and we have insisted on a clause that would enable us to negotiate elsewhere in the event of Wigan being relegated. That does not sound like a bad deal, does it?

'I give personal business advice to my clients but ultimately the decision is theirs to make.

'I told Ross what the terms were from Wigan and Middlesbrough and left him to make up his own mind.

'My advice was actually to wait until the summer, when he could even have clubs knocking on his door, but Ross understandably wants security.

'What if he breaks his leg or does his cruciate ligament between now and the end of the season?'

Hughes has also defended himself following an accusation by McGhee that McCormack was being manipulated by his agent cashing in 'on the first big offer he can get.'

Hughes, millionaire owner of Braveheart Promotions, is not FIFA-registered, but uses a FIFA-licensed agent to legitimately conclude deals.

'At no time have I tried to sell a player for a quick buck,' retorted Hughes in The Herald. 'I do not mean to be boastful, but I do not need to move on Ross McCormack, or anybody, to live off the money for six months.

'That is what most other agents do, but I have my own business. Those comments could potentially be bad for my business and that's why I feel compelled to respond to them because they are simply not true.'

Eric Black, meanwhile, has declared himself 'more than happy' as Wigan number two after rejecting the chance to again manage Coventry.

Black and the Latics were approached yesterday by the Sky Blues as they had hoped to lure him to the Ricoh Arena following the sacking of Iain Dowie earlier this week.

But Black insists he is keen to remain as Bruce's assistant as the duo look to keep the club in the Premier League.

'I was aware of Coventry's interest, but I'm more than happy with the job I'm doing with Steve,' said Black.

'One day I might want to return to management - I don't know if that will happen - but there's a big challenge here first.'

Black was previously in charge of Coventry for five months at the end of the 2003-04 season, winning 12 and drawing four of his 26 matches, yet was still axed as the club brought in Peter Reid.

Black believes his departure was a blessing in disguise, adding: 'I think I was unlucky to lose my job at Coventry.

'We were doing all right, averaging two points a game, but people have their choices and make decisions.

'It turned out to be a good thing because I went to Birmingham with Steve, and now I'm at Wigan.'