Town Confirm Triple Signing
Monday, 17th Aug 2020 14:16
Town have confirmed the signings of left-back Stephen Ward, keeper David Cornell and striker Oli Hawkins.
Ward, who has been given the number three shirt, has put pen to paper on a one-year deal with an option for a further season, and Cornell, who will wear 28, and Hawkins, the Blues’ new number 32 shirt, two-year contracts, both also with an option for an additional campaign. All three were free agents prior to joining Town.
The Welshman left the Cobblers at the end of their successful League Two promotion season having rebuffed the offer of a new contract.
Born in Waunarlwydd, Cornell started his career at Swansea during which time he had spells on loan at Port Talbot, Hereford, St Mirren and Portsmouth before moving on to Oldham in the summer of July 2015 having made only one League Cup appearance for the Swans.
In June 2016 he joined Northampton and went on to make 107 starts and one sub appearance while at Sixfields, helping them to win promotion to League One via the play-offs last season.
The 6ft 2in tall keeper was reportedly close to a first Wales call-up last season having won caps at U17, U19 and U21 levels.
A big frontman was known to be among manager Paul Lambert’s main targets this summer and at 6ft 5in tall former Portsmouth man Hawkins certainly fits that bill.
The 28-year-old, who TWTD revealed was in talks with the Blues on Thursday, started his career in non-league with North Greenford, Hillingdon Borough, Northwood, Hemel Hempstead Town and Harrow Borough.
The Ealing-born striker got his break in league football when Dagenham and Redbridge signed him in January 2016.
In August 2017, with the Daggers by now in the National League, Hawkins moved on to Portsmouth.
The centre forward, who has also often operated at centre-half, scored 18 goals in 71 starts and 25 sub appearances before being released by Pompey, with whom he won the EFL Trophy in 2018/19, when his contract was up this summer.
Last season he was rarely involved, and when he was usually in central defence, failing to find the net in nine starts and four sub appearances.
Hawkins was previously linked with the Blues in January 2017 when he was with the Daggers with Town subsequently signing another towering striker, Kieffer Moore, from Forest Green Rovers.
On the day Moore joined the Blues, ex-Town winger Darren Currie, then the Daggers' assistant manager, gave BBC Radio Suffolk's Life's a Pitch his thoughts on the pair.
“Oliver’s very similar to Kieffer Moore, obviously I’m going to be biased and say Oliver’s better!” Currie said.
“He’s another one that for a big man is good on the floor, very mobile for a big man, he’s got goals. He’s filled in at centre-half for us once or twice and he’s looked very comfortable there as well.
“He’s a great kid to work with, very humble boy, came from Hemel Hempstead, so his roots are very good and he’s gathering interest as well because he’s been playing very well.”
Ward, 34, who was released by Stoke at the end of last season, joined up with the Town squad for training last Monday and evidently quickly impressed the Town management.
The Dubliner, who was initially a striker, started his career with hometown club Bohemians before joining Wolves, at the time managed by Mick McCarthy, in January 2007 with then-Town boss Jim Magilton having confirmed that the Blues were also interested.
Ward spent seven years at Molineux featuring regularly in the Premier League before moving on to Burnley in 2014.
After five further seasons in the top flight at Turf Moor, the 5ft 11in tall left-back or winger moved to Stoke last summer. However, he made only 17 appearances and left at the end of the season. Ward has been capped 50 times by the Republic of Ireland, scoring three times.
Given Town’s limited scope for additions within the salary cap, Ward’s signing ends the Blues’ interest in bringing former loanee Luke Garbutt back to Portman Road on a permanent basis.
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