New clubs enter chase for Ward

In-demand: Joel Ward
In-demand: Joel Ward

Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday have entered the race for Joel Ward.

The play-off finalists and Championship new boys are both on the trail of the in-demand Emsworth ace.

They join Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Ipswich, who are all also vying for Ward’s signature.

The 22-year-old is set to make his mind up where his future lies over the weekend, before making his £450,000 exit from Fratton Park.

And he now has a whole host of options at his disposal when it comes to deciding where he will be playing his football next season.

Leeds appeared to be in the box seat for his services.

But Ward has now met with a number of Championship managers for discussions.

It is understood Crystal Palace, Ipswich and Burnley have all made a favourable impact on the versatile talent.

Ward was impressed by the plans of up-and-coming bosses Dougie Freedman and Eddie Howe in talks.

And Tractor Boys boss Paul Jewell has undertaken a lengthy pursuit of the former News/Sports Mail Pompey Player of the Season.

Their interest in Ward dates back to January when they tried to sign him along with Stephen Henderson and Pearce.

They tabled a bid of £1.75m for the trio then, but Ward and Pearce made it clear they wanted to stay and help Pompey fight for their place in the Championship.

The Blues’ anticipated summer fire sale has yet to spark into life.

Jason Pearce’s £500,000 move to Leeds has been the only departure so far.

And administrator Trevor Birch has confirmed Ward is the only other player for whom he has received firm bids.