Former Essendon AFL star Conor McKenna is expected to be an immediate addition to the Tyrone panel once he arrives back in Ireland.

Just two months ago, McKenna reiterated his long-standing desire to come home once more and play for his club and county.

Last winter, McKenna was in hot water with his AFL club for playing twice for his home club Eglish whilst back in Ireland.

At the start of this year there was much speculation that, when he returned home for a few weeks in February, he would not this time return, having constantly fought homesickness during his time away.

RTÉ Sport understands that he met with members of the Tyrone management when he was last back in Ireland and sources say they expect him to link up with the county team soon after his return.

"It's been a difficult year for everyone, but it's also been a chance to take stock and weigh up several things in my life, so the time is right."

McKenna was then at the centre of a media storm in June when he tested positive, then negative, for Covid-19 and was suspended for one of Essendon's matches for a minor breach of virus protocols.

A few months on from his last visit to Ireland, McKenna spoke to, the online Tyrone news outlet.

During that interview he outlined how hard it was for him to watch the team play and recounted his desire to wear the white and red shirt soon again.

"I went to the All-Ireland final a couple of years ago and it was one of hardest things I had to do, sitting there and seeing them play," he told Teamtalk.

"Just the chance that they could win, and you would not play would be heart-breaking; I would have had to live with that.

"I have made sacrifices to play in Australia. The Under-21s won an All-Ireland (2015) and I missed that too but it is always there in the near future that I can come back home and play with Eglish and get back on the Tyrone panel if I can."

McKenna played centre-forward in the 2013 All-Ireland minor final defeat to Mayo and while they lost 2-13 to 1-13, he fired home 1-2.

Still only 24, sources say that once he returns, it's expected he will soon link up with the county senior panel - though some niggling injuries will be closely monitored.

McKenna scored 20 goals in 79 matches for Essendon.

His natural ability and incredible speed will give Tyrone manager Mickey Harte a huge boost – especially with Cathal McShane’s absence this year through injury.

Tyrone are scheduled to play Donegal in the Ulster SFC quarter-final on 31 October / 1 November.