Matt Tubbs could still be heading back to Crawley – but only if Bournemouth agree to let him leave on the cheap.
Reds boss John Gregory is keen to sign the striker who has been told he is free to leave Dean Court and was believed to be meeting him this week.
Tubbs has another 12 months left on the three and a half year deal he agreed when he left Crawley in January 2012 but is not part of manager Eddie Howe’s plans.
Howe is expecting plenty of interest in the 29-year-old with Tubbs revealing he has already spoken to a number of League One clubs, including Crawley.
But Gregory admits Reds will not be able to compete for Tubbs’s signature if Bournemouth attempt to recoup a sizeable chunk of the £600,000 they paid Crawley for him.
Gregory said: “We are still talking with Bournemouth about Matt.
“I’d like to think he wants to come back but it all comes down to finances.
“It is up to them if they ask for a fee but if they do then, with respect to Matt, I don’t think there will be a huge queue of clubs wanting to sign him as there is his salary on top.
“It is a question of whether they are willing to write off some of their investment to ensure there is a longer queue of clubs wanting to sign him.”
Tubbs is regarded as a hero at Crawley after scoring 58 goals in 78 games to help the club win the Conference premier title and put them on course for promotion to League One.
The former Salisbury forward made an instant impact when he returned on loan in January, scoring six goals in his first six games.
Although his form tailed off at the end of the season, scoring just twice in his last 12 appearances, Gregory has targeted Tubbs as the answer to Crawley’s problems in front of goal.
With Billy Clarke, Jamie Proctor and Rory Fallon having all left at the end of the season Gregory needs to bring in at least three strikers over the summer.
Tubbs has said he would only consider joining Crawley if they had a squad capable of challenging for promotion.
Gregory is confident of persuading the striker that is not an issue despite only having six senior players on the books at the moment but admits wages could be another stumbling block.
Gregory said: “I’d love Matty to be with us for a full season but he is on great money at Bournemouth.
“He is on a very good salary and could sit on his backside and pick up his money but that is not in his DNA.
“He wants to play and Bournemouth would be silly to pay his wages for the next 12 months if he is not in their plans when they could get him off their wage bill, even if they have to take a bit of a hit on it.”
Howe is happy for Tubbs, along with midfielder Miles Addison to leave during the summer, but says there is no rush to sort out their futures.
The Cherries boss said: “I think from both players’ perspective they would need to further their careers somewhere else at this stage.
“They both want and need to play and, realistically, they are not going to force their way into my plans so I think we will see what interest we get in both players throughout the summer and then pick it up from there.
“If you look back at Matt’s goal record it is excellent.
“He has always been a goalscorer so I’m sure he would be very attractive to a lot of clubs.”