DANNY WARD has been given permission by Bolton Wanderers to talk to Town over a permanent move this summer.
It has been reported that the League I club have agreed a six-figure fee for the 19-year-old, who has stayed behind from the Trotters’ tour of the US.
Last term Ward arrived on loan at Town on March 15 for the remainder of the season – making seven appearances and scoring three goals.
He made his debut as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Brentford at Griffin Park on the same day.
Ward scored his first goal, which was the winner away in the 3-2 victory at champions Brighton and Hove Albion, which also happened to be the last goal scored at the Withdean Stadium.
Ward also scored in the League I play-off semi-final second-leg against Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, Alex Smithies came through his first match since mid-March as Town kicked off their friendly programme with a 1-0 win at Gateshead and beamed: “Bring on the new season.”
The 21-year-old keeper proved his recovery from a knee surgery with a clean-sheet show against the non-league side.
Now he’s looking forward to fighting it out with experienced duo Ian Bennett and Nick Colgan and youngster Lloyd Allinson for the stopper’s spot.
“It feels fantastic to be back,” said Smithies.
“I had a stressful time last season when I was trying to get back fit but had a few setbacks.
“Now I’m training hard and this run-out was important for me. It was more about fitness than the result, but it’s always good to get a win and a clean sheet.”
Smithies has been linked with a move away this summer but insisted: “All I’m thinking about is working hard and pushing for a place for the first league game.
“There’s great competition at the club, which is how it has to be, but we all push each other along and it’s a nice little group to be part of.”
While Calum Woods was left out after feeling a touch of muscle stiffness, Town fans in a 604 crowd saw his fellow new arrivals Oscar Gobern, Tommy Miller, Liam Cooper and Donal McDermott as manager Lee Clark utilised 22 players in total.
“The new lads have settled in very well, and there’s as good a spirit as ever among the squad,” added Smithies.
“We’re looking to progress as we go through pre-season and make sure we’re fit and fully integrated by the first game.”