CONNOR Mahoney is close to a Blackburn Rovers exit with the winger attracting interest from the Championship.

The 20-year-old wide man is out of contract at Ewood Park and has been offered a fresh deal by Rovers boss Tony Mowbray.

But the Lancashire Telegraph understands the former Accrington Stanley player is set to turn down a new contract to stay in East Lancashire and instead join an unnamed Championship club.

Mahoney, who played 21 games for Rovers last season and impressed in the final months of the campaign, has been linked with a move to Sunderland and Barnsley but neither of those sides is in the frame for the attacker.

A deal could be concluded in the next week for Mahoney, who attracted loan interest in January when the new Rovers offer was first made.

Rovers would be due compensation because he is under the age of 24 and has been offered a contract. Any interested club would need to agree a fee with Rovers or see that figure set by a tribunal,

Mahoney joined Rovers from Stanley in December 2013 having made six appearances for the Reds.

He made his Rovers debut in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester City in 2014 but had to wait more than two years for his next first team appearance when he featured in two games towards the end of the 2015-16 season.

And he again found himself out of the first team picture at the start of last season with his first Championship appearance not coming until February.

But he featured regularly under Mowbray in the final two months of the season and the Rovers boss had been keen to tie him down to a longer contract.

Mahoney was the only out-of-contract first team player to be offered a new deal by Mowbray when the Rovers retained list was announced in May.

But the head coach, speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph last month, admitted that the chances of retaining the in-demand ace were slim.

He said: “I have sat opposite and spoke with him two or three times and tried to advise him on his career.

“For me he should stay and play 100 games for this club over the next two seasons and if his talent dictates that he outgrows us and he has an offer from the Premier League, and we’re stuck in the Championship in two years’ time, then I wouldn’t stand in his way.

“Personally I have told him that the most important thing is that he plays football.

“If he goes and gets a better contract offer but is sat on the bench then they would be wasted years for him.

“It does not look like that advice has been heeded, it looks as though he is going to test the market, but all I can do is advise him to think about football and then his talent will decide everything else.”