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Defender Seb Hines expected to join Orlando City

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The club is reportedly finalizing a deal for the 26-year-old defender from England.

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Orlando City SC is close to finalizing a deal with Middlesbrough defender Seb Hines, according to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, quoting a source with direct knowledge of the deal. The signing would be for a six-month loan with the option to buy in July when his original contract runs out.

The 26-year-old center back has spent nine years plying his trade in English football. Hines was a regular for Middlesbrough as recently as 2013, and he has played 100 total games in England, including loan stints at Derby County, Oldham Athletic and Coventry City.

He has battled injuries throughout his career, having previously suffered a micro-fracture in his knee during the 2012-13 season and hamstring injuries while on loan with Coventry City this season.

Hines' arrival would help shore up a spot that's been unsettled this off-season, after the club failed to come to terms with either Heath Pearce or Paulo André.

The announcement comes on the same day the club released Brazilian international Gustavo, who would have competed for a spot as a center back, as well as second-round pick Akeil Barrett.

Hines will have to battle with Conor Donovan, Tommy Redding and current trialist Sean St. Ledger for the other starting center back starting spot, alongside Aurélien Collin.

One factor that might have played a part in the deal is his American family connections. From the Sentinel report:

In 2012, Hines told American Soccer Now that he hoped to earn a call from the U.S.

"I definitely feel part of both countries," Hines told ASN. "It’s not like I found some distant relative [in the U.S]. America has always been a massive part of my life. My father and grandparents are all very much American. I grew up with American sports even over here where they’re not as big as football. Football was the main sport growing up."

Hines' father is an American, and he spent some of his childhood living in North Carolina before moving back to England. He's played for England's U-19 side but has not heard from Jurgen Klinsmann about a call-up to the U.S. national side.