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Seagulls close to Ward deal

BRIGHTON will try to complete the signing of Ireland international Stephen Ward in the next 48 hours to make sure that the defender is on board for the start of the Championship season next weekend.

Ward has a year left on his contract at Wolves but boss Kenny Jackett has made it clear that the left back, along with compatriot Kevin Doyle, is not in his plans.

The former Bohemians man spent last season on loan to Brighton, helping them reach the promotion playoffs, and although Sammy Hyypia has since taken over as manager, he has been giving positive reports on the player and has approved a deal.

Brighton and Wolves were today holding talks over a deal for Ward and although a fee is a stumbling block, Brighton are hopeful of completing a permanent deal for Ward in time for the kick-off of the new season next Saturday.

Ward featured for Wolves in a pre-season game against Oxford last week but manager Jackett maintains that the player is not part of his plans for the new season and he is keen to move on Ward, one of the longest-serving players at the club, having joined from Bohs for €200,000 in 2007.

"He's looking for his next move, we all know that," Jackett said of Ward. Doyle and Ward were not included when Wolves last week announced their list of squad numbers for the new season, with Ireland U21 cap Anthony Forde also omitted.

In Dublin last week QPR boss Harry Redknapp - who had Doyle on loan for a spell last season - said he admired the Wexford man but a permanent move to Loftus Road is not on the cards for Doyle, left out in the cold for Wolves' pre-season programme ahead of their return to the Championship.

There was some good news on the injury front for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill as Marc Wilson came through a pre-season test unscathed yesterday.

There had been some concern over Wilson's fitness after he limped off early in the first half of a pre-season game in Germany last week.

But the former Portsmouth man came on as a 63rd minute sub for Stoke in a 1-1 draw away to Blackburn yesterday, with Glenn Whelan and Stephen Ireland also appearing off the bench.

Seamus Coleman, who suffered a hamstring injury in pre-season with Everton, is the main injury worry for O'Neill with a view to next month's Euro 2016 qualifier in Georgia but full back Stephen Kelly is also a concern, the former Tottenham man missing for pre-season with Reading due to injury.


But there is better news in midfield as Andy Reid, who underwent surgery in March which ended his season, is back in the Nottingham Forest team and started in Saturday's win over West Brom.

Meanwhile, Ireland hopeful Stephen Henderson has been given a boost in his bid to establish himself with Championship side Charlton for the new campaign.

Henderson, 26, moved to Charlton last month after a frustrating spell at West Ham United but the Dubliner has done well in pre-season for the Valiants. He impressed in a win over Henderson's former club Portsmouth and boss Bob Peeters has shown his confidence in the former U21 cap by giving him the No.1 shirt when the squad numbers were announced yesterday.