After Burnley release, Eckersley likely to stay in Toronto

TORONTO – The way has been paved for defender Richard Eckersley’s return to Toronto FC on a permanent basis for the upcoming season.

English Championship side Burnley announced on their website on Wednesday that a mutual agreement had been reached with Eckersley to cancel the final 18 months of the player’s contract at Turf Moor, allowing him to join any team.

The 22-year-old right back played in Toronto last season on loan from the English club and made a strong impression, providing width and energy on the overlap. He also filled in occasionally in central defense.

Eckersley, who began his career in the Manchester United system, signed a four-year deal with Burnley in July of 2009. He played only a few games there, but did play for Plymouth Argyle, Bradford City and Bury on loan before heading to MLS. Paul Mariner, Toronto’s director of player development, had been manager at Plymouth Argyle when Eckersley was there.

The Salford, England, native made his debut with Toronto on April 23 of last season and immediately made the right back spot his own. Bringing him back to BMO Field became one of the club’s top priorities during the offseason. His loan with the Reds expired earlier this month, and negotiations have been ongoing.

It appears that only a few details need to be completed before TFC can make an official announcement that they’ve reached a permanent deal.

Toronto FC officials declined to comment on Wednesday.