Football: Ward ready to fight for his Rovers place

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The Independent Online
ASHLEY WARD explained yesterday that a "gentleman's agreement" had paved the way for his pounds 4.25m move back to the Premiership.

After signing a four-and-a-half year contract with Blackburn Rovers, the 28-year-old added that he was not worried about joining a club brimming with forwards. The striker said he had no fears about competing against the likes of Chris Sutton, Kevin Gallacher, Nathan Blake and Kevin Davies after his move from Barnsley.

"I've never made any secret of my ambitions to get back into the Premiership and Barnsley knew that," he said. "We had a gentleman's agreement that they wouldn't try to stand in my way if clubs such as Blackburn Rovers came in for me. Fair play to the chairman, John Dennis, he has been as good as his word.

"I expect to have to fight for a first-team place. It would be disappointing if a club like this allowed anyone the luxury of just walking into the side. There are a lot of talented players here and there are certainly a lot of top strikers about. All I want to do is to make sure that I get into the team and stay there."

Under the seven-day rule, Ward will not be eligible to play in Blackburn's FA Cup tie against Charlton Athletic at Ewood Park on Saturday.

Blackburn's manager, Brian Kidd, made Ward his second major signing after recruiting the Northern Ireland winger, Keith Gillespie, from Newcastle United a couple of weeks ago.

Kidd said of his new signing: "Ashley is a link player, someone who can hold the line while we try to get the ball forward and play in the opposition's half. He's a target man if you like but he gets his fair share of goals along the way.

"I've admired him for a while, you always look at the type of players you would want in your team and he is one of them. I know people will say we have a lot of strikers here now and I am also aware that no player is happy when he's not playing. But I must do what's best for the club and competition for places is a must. It gives you the cutting edge."

John Aloisi, the Coventry City striker, has apologised to Portsmouth fans for leaving Fratton Park on the cheap, and said he fears for the future of the First Division club.

The pounds 1.5m-rated Aloisi, who scored his first Premiership goal against Tottenham at the weekend, moved to Highfield Road for only pounds 650,000 two weeks ago to ease Pompey's financial problems.

Aloisi, who had scored 17 goals this season before his move to the Sky Blues, said: "I still talk to people down there and the fans are not happy that the chairman is selling so many players. I feel so sorry for the supporters who were brilliant to me and I wanted the best for them. They were angry when I was sold, and going on the cheap did them no favours.

"But I had no other choice than to come to Coventry. The manager [Alan Ball] also had no say in the matter. He is also not happy and I really do fear for the future of the club now."

Meanwhile Coventry's almost annual battle against relegation from the Premiership - they have now gone seven games without a win - has suffered a double setback with the suspension from 9 January of Stephen Froggatt and George Boateng, who have both reached the five-booking mark.

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