CIYMS and North Down are believed to be leading the chase for Holywood and Northern Knights all-rounder Mark Adair.
Adair, 22, who spent last season playing for his home-town club in Section One after returning from England, has been told he should play top flight cricket if he wants to put himself into contention for full Ireland honours.
Reigning champions CI have been weighing up their options after South African professional Matt McGillivray confirmed he would not be returning to Northern Ireland in 2019.
Captain Nigel Jones is a big fan of Adair and may prefer to lure him to Belmont rather than going for a straight overseas replacement for McGillivray.
North Down meanwhile are desperate to give their bowling attack a cutting edge as they have become far too reliant on professional Ruhan Pretorius for early wickets. Waringstown had previously tried to bring Adair to The Lawn in 2017 but it is believed they are not realistic contenders for his signature this time.
Also interested in Adair are Carrickfergus and his former club CSNI.
Speaking to Cricket Europe on Tuesday, Adair confirmed he is leaving Holywood.
“It’s been a tough decision to leave Holywood, but I want to prove that I can play at the highest level as both bowler and batter,” said Adair. “I’m keen to play for Ireland and to give myself the best chance of that I feel I need the challenge of Premiership cricket. Holywood have been great to me and they will always be my hometown club.”
The former Warwickshire man expects to make a decision about his future in the next few weeks.
“I’m flattered that there has been so much interest from these top clubs. It’s going to be difficult, but hope to make a final decision on my destination in the coming weeks,” he added.
North Down also want to secure the signing of highly-rated Muckamore wicket-keeper batsman Jamie Magowan, who has played interprovincial cricket for the Northern Knights.
There will be real intrigue around the race to sign overseas professionals. Waringstown have started the search for a successor to Shaheen Khan but have ruled out Shadley van Schalkwyk, Armagh’s 2018 professional. The South African is unable to commit to staying until the end of the NCU season. Khan meanwhile is believed to be considering two offers from clubs in the Dublin area where he is eligible to play.
One of the surprises of the close season is that Civil Service North have yet to confirm the signing of Andre Malan for a second season. The South African enjoyed a brilliant first term at Stormont but in an interview recently with News Letter cricket correspondent Johnny Morton, confirmed that he has yet to agree terms.
CSNI have confirmed that Gary Wilson, the Ireland T20 captain, is returning to the club in 2019 after ending his county contract with Derbyshire.
Lisburn are expected to boost their squad with two new signings ahead of their return to the Premier League. The Section One champions want to sign a top quality overseas professional and he could be supplemented by an Irish passport signing.
NCU clubs will also be on red alert after Ireland all-rounder Simi Singh issued a come and get me plea earlier this week. The Indian-born star told Cricket Europe that he is leaving Dublin YMCA and would consider a move to Northern Ireland.
Another Ireland international who could interest NCU clubs is Barry McCarthy. The 26-year-old seam bowler is on the lookout for a new club after being released by Durham.