Portsmouth reject Town’s bid for Ward and Pearce – but does not rule out possibility of transfers

PORTSMOUTH manager Michael Appleton quickly dismissed Ipswich Town’s opening offer for duo Joel Ward and Jason Pearce – but has not completely ruled out the possibility of the transfers happening.

Blues boss Paul Jewell lodged a low-level initial bid for the young pair – believed to be around �1m – last weekend.

And while Appleton – working with one of the Championship’s smallest squads – is keen to keep hold of two of his key players, an impending change in ownership at the south coast club may force the issue. Prospective buyer Joseph Cala has intimated that he may need to reduce the wage bill.

Versatile defender/midfielder Ward is 22 and progressed through the ranks at his hometown club, while centre-back Pearce, 24, came through the Academy ranks at Fratton Park, left for Bournemouth, but re-signed for Pompey last summer for �500,000.

“I am aware a bid has gone in for Joel and Jason, but it is a million miles away from what is the true value we regard them,” said Portsmouth boss Appleton.

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“I don’t think there was much of a discussion. It has been turned down and that’s where I am with that.

“If Ipswich want to continue and look to pursue that further it is down to them.

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“But as far as we are concerned we want young, talented footballers such as Joel and Jason at this football club. If I am given the opportunity Jason and Joel will play a big part in our future.

“I want to strengthen this squad, the last thing I want to do is sell of players like that. No way. If anyone was to leave it would be one of the more experienced players rather than the young ones.”

He continued: “No-one has picked up the phone to me and said we have to accept offers for my players. That is how it stands today -until somebody tells me differently tomorrow.

“Ipswich’s offer was not acceptable and we move on.”

Pearce has been one of Pompey’s best players this season, making 24 appearances, while Ward has also been a regular, making 25 appearances and scoring two goals – including the equaliser in the south-coast derby against Southampton last month.

Appleton said: “Jason has been really, really steady. Being in a new league he has had to make sure he is consistent – and I think he has done to be fair. He is going to get better all the time.

“Joel has been versatile and will continue to be versatile this season. He recently hit a purple patch where he scored a few goals and next season I want to get him in his own position.”

– Blues boss Paul Jewell is due to speak to the press at 12.15pm today. For all the latest news, keep an eye on this website throughout the day.

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