Stephen Ward admits he did not pause to grab possibly a last glimpse of the Amex as an Albion player.

But, as he heads off for international duty and his summer holiday, he will be hoping those who take care of business have sorted him out an exciting challenge next season.

And, unless his opinion has changed since the resignation of Oscar Garcia, he would love that challenge be at the Amex.

Ward has continued a recent tradition of on-loan left-backs at Albion.

His performances last season both in defence and helping out the attack earned him a lot of admirers among Seagulls supporters after let go on loan by Wolves.

Kenny Jackett has hinted he does not have a future at Molineux, even though there is still a year left on his contract.

Hence Albion fans hope the 2-1 defeat to Derby was not the last time they saw him at home in their colours.

Ward told The Argus: “I didn’t have time to reflect as I came off at the end of that game.

“Whatever happens will be done in the summer.

“I’m hopeful that is not going to be my last game at the Amex for Brighton.

“It’s difficult. I’m contracted so there are a lot of negotiations and talks to go on behind the scenes that will not even involve me.

“I will leave that all to the powers that be in the summer.

“But I don’t have one negative word to say about this place and how this year has gone for me.

“It has been a fantastic move for me, a real breath of fresh air in my career.”

Ward was named in the Republic of Ireland squad for four friendlies, starting a week on Sunday against Turkey in Dublin.

Seagulls fans will keep an eye on his form hoping he could be back in their colours again.

They might also reflect that we have been here before.

A successful loan stint at left-back does not necessarily lead to a permanent deal, even when the player is out of contract or out of favour at his parent club.

Two years ago, many Albion supporters were keen on bringing back Joe Mattock.

When Mattock was released by West Brom, there were many who thought the next move was to get him to the Amex.

But he only made it back to Falmer as a member of the Sheffield Wednesday side hammered 3-0 early in the season.

Wayne Bridge scored that night in the early days of a fabulous season on loan from Manchester City.

When his loan stint with the Seagulls and contract at City both ran out, there were probably some fans on the South Coast dreaming he would sign on a more permanent deal.

But he always looked way out of the Seagulls’ range and they probably dodged a bullet given the troubled campaign he has just finished at Reading.

To a lesser extent, Gary Borrowdale and Matt Richards also did enough when playing at left-back on loan, to have fans hoping they would return.

Richards did indeed come back for the start of 2008-09, but only on loan again.

Borrowdale was brought in from QPR to help in the Great Escape later that season and did well in the run-in under Russell Slade.

But he did not return.

The only left-back to make it permanent in the summer after a loan spell was Marcos Painter in 2010.

Ward could change that. But the situation at Albion has changed since he last spoke of his hopes and ambitions.


Albion have started with a loan player at left-back in 96 of their last 109 league games, dating back to Joe Mattock’s full debut in a 2-1 win at Leeds in February 2012. Here is the breakdown...

44: Stephen Ward (loan)

37: Wayne Bridge (loan)

14: Joe Mattock (loan)

7: Marcos Painter

5: Inigo Calderon.

1: Gonzalo Jara Reyes (loan), Vitalijs Maksimenko.