Bristol Rovers boss John Ward closing in on Stoke City striker Ryan Brunt
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward is close to completing a deal to sign Stoke City striker Ryan Brunt.
Ward completed his fifth signing of the transfer window by securing the signature of central defender Clayton McDonald from Port Vale on Monday and is now hoping to bolster his attacking options by completing a deal to bring 19-year-old Brunt to the Memorial Stadium.
Brunt, who began his fledgling career in Bristol City's academy, joined Stoke in 2010 and has since scored four goals in 38 appearances during short loan spells at Luton Town, Tranmere Rovers and Leyton Orient.
Standing at 6ft 1ins, Ward is hopeful that Brunt will add the sort of physical and aerial threat that has been missing since Tom Eaves returned to Bolton at the turn of the year.
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The manager yesterday reiterated his desire to remain in the market for an experienced striker – even though David Clarkson is set to make a return to action against Rotherham at the New York Stadium on Saturday following a month-long absence – to "support" youngsters Eliot Richards and Tom Hitchcock.
Ward approached Swindon Town to assess the possibility of taking striker Paul Benson on loan last week, but has still yet to hear back from a player he tried to sign from Charlton Athletic while manager at Colchester United during the last January transfer window.
That chase is hindered by the fact that Benson, 33, is in no rush to make an immediate decision on his future, with 18 months left on his deal at Swindon. He turned down a loan move to Cheltenham Town last week after being told by Swindon boss Paulo Di Canio that he wouldn't be allowed to extend his month-long stay at Portsmouth, and is now considering his next move.
Swindon are still keen to offload the marksman, but a host of clubs, including Bradford City, Colchester United, Gillingham, Southend United and Dagenham & Redbridge are also reportedly interested in acquiring his services and Benson is only one of a number of targets Ward is keeping tabs on.
Rovers, meanwhile, have been training on the 3G pitch at their Cribbs Causeway headquarters this week and Ward remains hopeful Saturday's game in Rotherham will not fall foul of the adverse weather conditions.
Ward said: "We've been working on the 3G pitch, but the snow keeps falling, so it has been a bit difficult this week.
"I've spoken to a couple of my counterparts north of Birmingham and they are really struggling to find places to train, so we are quite lucky to have the artificial pitch available to us up here.
"We have no other thoughts in our mind other than that we will be playing up at Rotherham on Saturday. I've got the player reports on the Rotherham lads in my file and we've been looking over those as we continue our preparations.
"Our travelling arrangements have also been made, so we are planning to play until someone tells us otherwise."