Hold up over Ward’s Pompey departure

Joel Ward celebrates his derby goal with Marko Futacs. Picture: Steve Reid (114419-253)
Joel Ward celebrates his derby goal with Marko Futacs. Picture: Steve Reid (114419-253)
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Pompey’s desire to cash in on Joel Ward has been held up with the youngster’s anticipated exit set to drag on well into next week.

The in-demand 22-year-old has already met four clubs to discuss a move.

Another two Championship sides are also believed to be monitoring the situation as the chase hots up for the Emsworth youngster.

Yet The News understands a mooted £450,000 deal is now highly unlikely to be completed until next week.

Ward will not be rushed into a decision over where his future lies, particularly with plenty of offers to consider.

What is certain, however, is he will be leaving Fratton Park – and for a Championship destination.

Leeds have long believed they are in pole position, with Ward having held talks with Neil Warnock and been shown around their Thorp Arch training ground.

They see him solving their right-back problem with Paul Connelly transfer-listed and central defender Tom Lees having filled in at the end of the campaign.

Plus, they’ve already lured Jason Pearce – a close friend of Ward – to Elland Road.

Crystal Palace, Burnley and long-time pursuers Ipswich have also held discussions with the versatile performer since the end of the season.

In the meantime, Pompey remain eager to sell players to bring vital revenue into the club while the hunt for new ownership continues.

Regardless, boss Michael Appleton is not surprised by the amount of interest shown in the home-grown product who has made 96 appearances for the Blues.

He said: ‘Leeds are the main interest but there are a few others.

‘I didn’t think Joel would be short of interested parties and that has turned out to be the case. There are a lot looking at him.

‘Ipswich have always shown interest, Palace are there and Burnley have come in really strong.

‘Eddie Howe worked with him in the past at Bournemouth, so you’ve got that link there.

‘We have accepted Joel will be going, so now it is up to them to come up with an agreed deal.

‘He’s been great for this club, he’s an honest lad and I’ve got a lot of time for him.

‘He’ll have a good future wherever he ends up.’

Both Palace and Burnley have earmarked Ward to fill their respective right-back spots should Newcastle come raiding.

The Toon have been linked with Palace’s highly-regarded Nathaniel Clyne, who is out of contract.

Similarly, Alan Pardew has reportedly been eyeing the Clarets’ right-back and player of the season Keiran Trippier.

Meanwhile, Ipswich have been chasing Ward since the January transfer window – and held talks on emergency loan deadline day in March.