Seagulls train in Spain while player hunt continues

Jake Forster-Caskey
Jake Forster-Caskey

Brighton and Hove Albion’s pre-season preparations continue as the Seagulls take on Partick Thistle.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s pre-season preparations continue tomorrow when the Seagulls take on Scottish outfit Partick Thistle in Spain.

The Albion squad are currently training in Costa de Murcia but work on squad strengthening is ongoing at the club’s Amex base and the Seagulls hoped to announce a couple of new signings before the weekend.

The most likely additional to the Brighton roster would appear to be Stephen Ward. The left-back has long been linked with a permanent switch to Sussex following his successful loan spell at The Amex last season. He was voted runner-up in the team’s player of the year poll and has been told he is surplus to requirements at parent club Wolverhampton Wanderers.

In fact, the only stumbling block so far has been the player’s wage demands, with Ward said to be on £13,000 at Wolves - a figure the Albion are almost certain not to match.

The player, however, remains keen on a move south and hopes persist that a compromise can be made.

Elsewhere, a goalkeeper remains a priority for Sami Hyypiä. Media reports in the manager’s Finland homeland continue to link the Seagulls with a move for Niki Mäenpää, of Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

The 29-year-old has won 21 international caps and would no doubt relish the opportunity to work closely with both Hyypiä and the Albion’s new goalkeeping coach Antti Niemi, himself a one-time Finland number one.

One mooted replacement for Tomasz Kuszczak, who left when his contract expired at the end of last season, will not be signing for the Seagulls. Brighton had been linked with a move for Keiren Westwood, who was shown the door at Sunderland by former Brighton boss Gus Poyet. The Republic of Ireland international this week signed a two-year deal with Sheffield Wednesday.

Stoke City’s Jack Butland remains another possible signing, with the Premier League club considering loaning their young England prospect out to a Championship side for the coming season. Much, however, depends on whether the Potteries outfit can fend of interest in their first choice ‘keeper Asmir Begovic.

On a positive note, Albion’s England Under 19 international stopper Christian Walton this week signed an extension on his Brighton contract, as did England Under 21 midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey (pictured training in Spain).

The future of Brighton talisman Leo Ulloa is less certain, however. Leicester City, who have already signed Albion defensive linchpin Matthew Upson, are still interested in the Argentinian striker.

The Foxes have had three bids rejected - with Brighton wanting close to £10 million - but are rumoured to have returned with a £7.5 million bid yesterday.