Pompey to offer Ward new deal

Matt Clarke celebrates his goal at MK Dons. Picture: Joe Pepler

Five questions Pompey fans will want answered

Steve Cotterill has revealed Pompey are in talks with Joel Ward over a new long-term deal.

The Blues boss is desperate to ensure the versatile youngster remains at Fratton Park as he looks to shape the club's future.

Ward penned a new two-year contract only last summer.

But the Emsworth talent's emergence as a first-team regular and impressive displays in a variety of positions, including right-back and centre midfield, have convinced the club to offer fresh terms.

Talks remain ongoing, although the 21-year-old has made no secret of his delight in becoming a fixture with his home-town club.

And for Cotterill, it is essential one of the star performers of the campaign so far stays.

He said: 'What always impresses me about Joel – and this is why he has outshone the other young lads – is his athleticism.

'I think he has done really, really well for us. He's a good lad, I like him, and I want to keep him here.

'We're talking about a new contract and that is on-going a bit.

'It has dragged around for far too long – it's amazing, really, that agents seem to know more about the players than you do.

'I'm sure, though, it will come out the other end because I want him here.

'In pre-season, I thought "oh dear".

'I thought he was a rabbit in the headlights.

'I wouldn't like it if he took umbrage at this but I think he is starting to become a man.

'He's a really, really nice young boy and we all would like him to stay that way. It's just that I would like him to lose that a little bit when he crosses the white line and be that bit more aggressive.

'When he comes off he can go back into the fantastic young man his parents have brought him up to be because he's a great lad.'

Ward made his 26th appearance of the season when he lined up against Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

So far he has featured at right-back, left-back and in the centre of midfield.

Yet he has risen to the task magnificently in what is his maiden first-team season.

And Cotterill has revealed his admiration with the way Ward has managed to cope.

He added: 'He's a young man that has been lobbed in there.

'It's almost a bit cruel sometimes picking them because while they may seem cool above the water, they are young men, young professionals in a macho-orientated sport.

'They have got to keep calm, keep their head above the water, but underneath are kicking like mad sometimes.

'But at the end of the season they will be a lot better for it, tougher for it.

'It's just that young kids need a break to come out of it and have a look at it.

'Joel will probably get a break mentally from all of it in May because he will be involved all the time this year.'