SAINTS are hoping to tie up a deal for Southend striker Lee Barnard today – with Matt Paterson moving in the opposite direction.

The Daily Echo understands the Shrimpers have accepted a £175,000 bid for the 25-year-old, who has scored 17 goals in all competitions this season.

As part of the transfer, academy product Paterson is set to move to Roots Hall.

The 20-year-old frontman was at Southend’s training ground yesterday to finalise his switch.

Barring any last minute hitches, or late bids from elsewhere, both sides are hoping to have the transfers completed by the weekend.

As revealed by the Echo earlier this week, Saints had put in an initial bid of £150,000 for Barnard, That was then trumped by a £175,000 offer from Leeds.

Both were rejected by Southend, but Saints look to have won the day with their latest effort.

The Shrimpers have been resigned to losing their top scorer this month.

Barnard is out of contract in the summer and has indicated he would not pen a new deal at Roots Hall.

With Southend in financial difficulties, they are keen to receive what cash they can for their most prized asset.

They seem to have decided Saints’ offer of a six-figure sum, coupled with a striker to help fill the void left by Barnard, is about the best case scenario they could hope for.

The deal also makes sense for Saints.

Not only do they receive one of League One’s most prolific forwards to help bolster their attack, which is paper thin beyond Rickie Lambert and David Connolly, but they also get a player off their books.

Paterson’s opportunities at St Mary’s are always likely to be limited and Alan Pardew has spoken on many occasions about trying to move on some of his burgeoning squad, as there are too many professionals at the club.

If he is signed in time, Barnard would be available to play in tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Ipswich at St Mary’s, as he missed Southend’s 3-0 first round loss at Gillingham.

Failing that, he could make his debut at Brentford on Tuesday, assuming the transfer goes through as planned.

Romford-born Barnard started his career as a trainee at Spurs, where he made three Premier League substitute appearances.

He had loan spells at Exeter, Stevenage, Leyton Orient, Northampton and Crewe, before joining Southend in January 2008.

Barnard has made 85 appearances for Southend, scoring 37 goals.

Paterson has made 22 appearances for Saints, scoring twice – in last season’s 3-0 Championship win at Ipswich and the 1-1 draw at home to Millwall on the opening day of 2009/10.

Daily Echo: See today's paper for more on this story