American defender George John is close to joining English Premier League club Blackburn from FC Dallas.

To avoid the necessity of obtaining a British work permit, John has traveled to Greece - his grandparents' homeland - to collect a passport from another European Union country.

''All the paperwork with the MLS has been agreed, the player has traveled to Greece to get his passport, and hopefully he will be in the country either tonight or tomorrow,'' Blackburn manager Steve Kean said Tuesday. ''We've been tracking him through a scout based in the USA, we have had a number of good reports, and I've seen him myself on a number of occasions.

''In times past I've been involved with a lot of American players - Eddie Lewis, Marcus Hahnemann, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride - from my Fulham days. It's a very good market because you can get players who have great potential, who hit the ground running, and you can normally get them for a very competitive salary, and he fits the ball.''

John will fill a void left by Phil Jones' departure for Manchester United in the offseason.

''He is 6-foot-4, a commanding defender,'' Kean said of John. ''He is quick, aggressive, and he has a really bright future.''

The Indian-owned club also signed Montenegro winger Simon Vukcevic from Sporting Lisbon on a three-year contract Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Vukcevic is awaiting a visa and British work permit, but could be available for the Premier League match against Everton on Saturday.