Boss refuses to sell prize Pompey assets

Joel Ward in action against Chelsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (120042-1587)
Joel Ward in action against Chelsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (120042-1587)
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Michael Appleton wants to build Pompey’s future around in-demand Joel Ward and Jason Pearce.

The Blues yesterday turned down an undisclosed bid for the pair from Ipswich.

Appleton has no intention of cashing in on the youngsters who have become regulars in his side.

Despite continuing financial concerns, he insists he’s not been instructed to sell any of his players.

In addition, the club are hoping a replacement for Hermann Hreidarsson will link up with the squad today.

Meanwhile, Ipswich are expected to return with a second bid for Ward and Pearce. Appleton is desperate to keep both at Fratton Park, however, as he looks to assemble a successful side.

And he has warned potential suitors he is not interested in any approaches for his prize assets.

He said: ‘I am aware a bid has gone in for Joel and Jason but it is a million miles away from their true value to us.

‘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.

‘But as far as we are concerned we want young, talented footballers such as Joel and Jason at this 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 players like that. No way.

‘If anyone was to leave it would be one of the more experienced players rather than the young ones.

‘No-one has picked up the phone to me and said we have to accept offers.

‘That is how it stands today – until somebody tells me differently tomorrow.

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

The duo have become firm favourites with the Fratton faithful, who are desperate for them to remain.

Pearce has been one of Pompey’s players of the season following a summer move from Bournemouth.

The 24-year-old has stepped up from League One to establish himself in the heart of defence.

He has so far made 24 appearances.

Ward has also been a fixture in the Blues’ side, making 25 appearances and scoring two goals.

He netted the equaliser in the south-coast derby last month.

And Appleton has been delighted with their contributions.

He said: ‘Jason has been really, really steady.

‘Being in a new league he has 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.’