Southampton set to pinch Puncheon

Plymouth man close to leaving Home Park, permanently

Paul Ince looks set to lose midfield ace Jason Puncheon to League One play-off rivals Southampton before the end of the January transfer window.

A source close to the player confirmed to the Citizen that the big spending south coast club have made an offer to Plymouth – Puncheon's parent club – and Dons – who would need to agree to any permanent transfer under the agreement of their loan contract for the 23-year-old.

Dons boss Ince is said to be 'fighting tooth and nail' to keep hold of Puncheon, who sat out of Tuesday night's defeat to Colchester. But the lure of significantly increased wages and being signed permanently to a club desperate for his services, could persuade the former Wimbledon man to make the switch.

It's thought that, if Dons agree to the deal, they could benefit from players moving in the other direction. The loan signings of Mark Randall and Andros Townsend are not thought to have been a preemptive measure from Dons who remain keen to keep hold of Puncheon who had agreed a season-long loan move to stadium:mk at the start of the season.

Dons number two Karl Robinson said today: "To be honest what I know is he is a Plymouth player and what I take from that is there are some discussions, but we have got to make sure he is ready to play for us on Saturday.

"There have been players that have been here and that have stayed and gone and the club will always be there. People will always move on at some stage and the most important thing is MK Dons. He is a Plymouth player and that is all we know.

"He is probably two leagues below where he should be. There are some Premier League players that don't have his ability and that shows we're going a good job with him.

"It's funny because we get the scout reports before the game so we know who is at the game and some of the clubs that have been here is breath taking and a credit to this football club.

"You are always going to miss good players but I don't know the situation. But you always go on and find someone else and fhe fans get a new hero."

Could Dons afford to buy him?: "I don't know, unfortunately I don't have that money to go and buy him," said Robinson.

Any other transfer activity?: "No not at the moment. Like a lot of other clubs we have financial limitations to what we can and can't do.

"We are not a Southampton or a leeds and we have to make sure it is one in and one situation."

Meanwhile Plymouth head coach Paul Mariner said: "There are discussions going on but nothing has been finalised. My understanding is that Jason is still with MK Dons and I believe there is interest from Southampton. But as far as a deal going through, I don't think it's happened.

"At the moment it's watch this space."