Bristol Rovers boss John Ward keen to sign Swindon striker Paul Benson on loan
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward has entered the race to sign Swindon Town striker Paul Benson.
The Post understands Ward has made an inquiry to sign Benson on loan after it became clear the striker had turned down a move to Cheltenham Town at the end of last week.
Ward had been monitoring the situation regarding Benson, 33, for a number of weeks, but turned his attentions to other targets after Cheltenham agreed a deal to take Benson on loan until the end of the season a fortnight ago.
That move fell apart on Thursday, however, when Benson returned from a short spell at Portsmouth, only to reject the move to Whaddon Road.
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Swindon, who last week confirmed they are considering a move to go into administration if new investors can't be found, are still keen to offload the marksman in a bid to reduce a wage bill in the region of £250,000 per month and Rovers are believed to be challenging Bradford City in a bid to acquire Benson's services.
Ward, meanwhile, continues to work feverishly in a bid to bolster his squad and Benson is one of a number of targets the manager has inquired about over the last seven days.
A striker remains a priority and Ward last week sounded out Fleetwood Town over the possibility of bringing out-of-favour striker Steven Gillespie to the Memorial Stadium, but is understood to be resigning himself to the fact that deal is unlikely to happen.
Experienced marksman Benson, who has a goal ratio of better than one goal every two games over the past six seasons, would be a welcome alternative.
Any deal, however, could be dependent on whether or not Rovers are able to offer Benson assurances that the move would become permanent in the summer.
That could prove a stumbling block, with Ward only contracted at the Memorial Stadium until the end of the season or until the relegation-threatened club's continued Football League status can be guaranteed.
Benson, who made his name with Dagenham and Redbridge during the period in which they earned promotion from the Conference before establishing themselves as a Football League club, has scored 90 goals in 175 appearances.
Meanwhile, Exeter City striker Jamie Cureton has dismissed rumours linking him with a return to the Memorial Stadium.
Former fans' favourite Cureton, 38, who spent four successful seasons at the Memorial Stadium between 1996 and 2000, was open to a move back when he was a free agent at the end of last season, but eventually signed for Exeter after ex-Rovers boss Mark McGhee entered a summer-long pursuit for Oxford United striker James Constable.
With newly-installed Rovers boss Ward desperate to bolster his attacking options, Cureton has again been linked with a return during the transfer window.
But Cureton said: "I seem to be linked with them (Rovers) most seasons and again this transfer window. I suppose it is purely because of the trouble they are in and they need players.
"I don't know where it has come from or if there was any truth in it, but no one has contacted me and the manager has not said that anyone has contacted the club.
"It seems to be an ongoing thing this transfer window. Obviously, I live there and I have friends and family that are fans and know it. I get calls all the time asking if I am coming, my Dad gets it too, but at no point was I ever given an option to go there.
"It does always crop up, but there has been no contact. I am happy here and I have to get on with things."
Ward was hopeful that training will go ahead as normal at Cribbs Causeway this morning after adverse weather conditions forced a cancellation of Friday's session.
The game against Exeter City scheduled to be played at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday also fell foul of the weather and the manager said: "It was disappointing. We had a good win at Fleetwood and would have liked to have had the chance to build on that by getting the game with Exeter on."