Pompey set for battle with rivals for Howard

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Brian Howard is in Pompey’s sights as the club move into their new dawn.

But the Blues will have to fend off interest from rivals Southampton to land the Reading midfielder.

Howard is wanted as one of the first signings of the Convers Sports Initiatives era, with David Norris also lined up to arrive after leaving Ipswich.

And The News understands the 28-year-old is keen to join Steve Cotterill as he sets about building a new squad at Fratton Park.

Howard is looking to move on from the Madejski Stadium after finding regular first-team football increasingly difficult to secure under Brian McDermott.

He made 28 appearances for the Royals last season but was in and out of the starting 11 as the season drew to a close.

The former Sheffield United and Barnsley man has a year left on his current agreement.

Howard has already been told he could leave Reading after discussions with McDermott.

That almost led to him joining Southampton in March, with Nigel Adkins keen to take the Winchester-born talent to the club on loan.

Howard was a trainee along the M27 but left the club for Swindon without making an appearance.

A host of other Championship sides are also keen on landing the ball-playing talent.

But he would welcome a move to Pompey, with the club now viewed as upwardly mobile after the takeover on Wednesday.

Howard is fully aware of the feel-good factor generated by Cotterill among his squad last season, as the Blues survived in the Championship.

Reading were yesterday meeting over which players to retain after their failure to make it to the Premier League in Monday’s play-off final.