Birch expects swift climax to Ward pursuit

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Joel Ward appears set to finally wave goodbye to Pompey within the next 48 hours as the chase for his signature reaches its conclusion.

Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool have joined Leeds, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Ipswich in the pursuit for the in-demand 22-year-old.

Now the Seasiders’ defeat in Saturday’s play-off final has made the situation clearer, as they prepare for life in the Championship again next season.

As it stands, Ward is expected to depart Fratton Park for a fee in the region of £450,000.

Trevor Birch himself is unsure over where Ward’s destination will be as the clubs vie for the versatile performer.

But he believes any move could be completed before Wednesday.

He said: ‘We are still waiting for news on that situation – there has been no further movement.

‘Obviously I cannot be certain when it will go through but I would have thought it could be around the middle of this week.

‘It has taken time. We have all been waiting on this one, hopefully it can go through soon.’

Meanwhile, Marko Futacs has told Nemzeti Sport he wants to remain at Fratton Park next season.

The Hungarian, who is under contract for another 12 months, said: ‘I don’t know what the future will bring as it also depends on what will happen to the club.

‘I have had some offers put on the table but I wouldn’t mind staying here as I like the city very much.

‘I enjoy playing football here and I think the fans like me. I wish I could stay in England.

‘It’s totally different to Germany or France because the attacking part of the game is livelier here.’