Appy urges clubs to move quick for Pompey stars

Joel Ward is set to complete his move away from Pompey early next week
Joel Ward is set to complete his move away from Pompey early next week
Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler

Gaffer: Pompey better with Close in the middle

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Michael Appleton told the clubs circling his Pompey assets: Put your money where your mouth is.

Appleton has warned those looking to land a bargain that they risk losing out unless they move quickly.

The Fratton fire sale is heating up, with Joel Ward deciding where his future lies over this weekend.

Leeds are now in the box seat for his services and look favourite to land the 22-year-old.

He could be following close pal Jason Pearce to Elland Road after the defender’s £500,000 departure last weekend.

Ipswich have long coveted Ward, with Crystal Palace also linked with the versatile Emsworth talent.

But both could now miss out, with Neil Warnock ready to move quickly to bring in the player.

Appleton was expecting Pearce’s exit to kick-start a string of departures – but eight days on, no-one has joined the Pompey captain in leaving.

The likes of Luke Varney, Erik Huseklepp, David Norris, Hayden Mullins and Greg Halford have all been linked with a number of sides.

Forest have shown an interest in Halford, with Birmingham and Leeds also known to be keen.

Appleton laid it on the line to suitors for Halford – and any other players – and has told them they need to act.

He said: ‘There was a bit of interest in Greg before the last game of the season.

‘I’ve not heard any strong interest for him since, but now that Leeds have put their money where their mouth is, I think maybe one or two more may think they need to act quickly – or they could end up losing out.

‘They need to do that, otherwise they are going to lose out on a Greg Halford, Luke Varney, David Norris and these type of players. They will lose out if they don’t do something quickly.’

Meanwhile, Appleton has aired his concern his summer pursuit of players could prove fruitless.

The Pompey boss is worried the players he is lining up to bring in could be plucked away by rivals while the club waits for its future to become clearer.

Appleton has spent the past couple of weeks travelling the country and speaking to players, with Barnet striker Izale McLeod rumoured to be among those interesting the 36-year-old.

Appleton said: ‘In a respectful way, I don’t want to be talking about players leaving the building.

‘I need to be thinking about players coming in. That’s the most important thing – sooner rather than later, otherwise they are going to get cold feet and want to go elsewhere.’