Albion transfer target Stephen Ward could face Cristiano Ronaldo in a surprise appearance for the depleted Republic of Ireland.

The left-back on loan to the Seagulls from Wolves last season has flown out to the States to cover for injured Stoke defender Marc Wilson ahead of Ireland’s clash with Portugal in New Jersey in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Ward played in the recent 0-0 draw for Martin O’Neill’s side against Italy at Fulham but was not in the squad for the opening game of the American trip on Saturday morning, when Wilson suffered a hamstring injury in the stalemate with Costa Rica.

Portugal’s friendly against the Republic is expected to signal the return from injury of Real Madrid star Ronaldo in their final warm-up for the World Cup in Brazil.

Albion are keen to bring Ward back to the Amex permanently but are understood to be facing competition from Championship rivals Middlesbrough.