Montrose boss Stewart Petrie has suffered a big blow with goal-scoring midfielder Lewis Milne set to join League 1 rivals Raith Rovers.
The 24-year-old was a pivotal figure for the Gable Endies in the second half of last season, netting 11 times as the Angus side clinched the League 2 title.
The former Forfar and Cowdenbeath player signed a new two-year deal with Montrose last month however there was also an agreement in place that meant he could move on if a full-time club came calling.
That has now happened with Rovers boss Barry Smith making a move for Milne.
Petrie said: “Lewis has exercised the right to his clause that he could go to a full-time club for free. So we will honour that.
“He has been excellent for us and was a major part of us winning the league, scoring 11 goals from Christmas onwards.
“He is a great lad so I am delighted for him to get an opportunity to go full-time.
“It is unfortunate that we are losing such a good and influential player but he will certainly go with our blessing and hopefully he can make a career out of being full-time.
“It is not ideal he is going to one of our rivals in our league but again we are not going to dodge that gentleman’s agreement we had with him.
“We weren’t going to stand in his way and I am sure he will do well at Raith working with Barry.”
Before Milne’s departure, Petrie was already working hard behind the scenes to bring in strikers following the retiral of veteran front man Chris Templeman at the end of last season.
He also netted 11 times in the title-winning campaign and the manager admitted he now has an even bigger hole to fill in terms of goals.
He added: “There is no question of that.
“We certainly know where we need to strengthen. A lot of teams are looking for strikers and we are no different.
“We are working hard to bring in the right person or persons that will be the right fit for the club and better than what we have.
“They also have to be a certain character.
“So we are still looking but it is not as easy as some may think, just going out there and picking up two strikers.
“You see clubs a lot bigger than Montrose struggling to get strikers in so we will be patient with that and keep working away to get the right ones in.
“It has been a frustrating time as there have been players we have targeted and haven’t got them.
“So we just have to keep working at it to get the right ones in.
“People who can put the ball in the back of the net do not come cheap so we might have to look at the loan market and see what’s available there.
“We are still one or two short and hopefully we will have them in place for the Falkirk Betfred Cup tie but if it takes a bit longer than that, then so be it.”