KARL OYSTON has admitted he will be “disappointed” if DJ Campbell joined any of Pool’s Championship rivals.
The Seasiders striker was excused from the club’s training camp in Portugal in order to sort out his future.
He is certain to leave – other clubs only have to trigger a £1.25m release clause to land the 29-year-old.
But Oyston wants Campbell to join a top-flight club, rather than go to West Ham – who, The Gazette understands, have had a bid accepted, and are closest to doing a deal.
Pool arrived back from Portugal yesterday and, as it stands, Campbell has still not signed for another club.
“I think he will go elsewhere,” Oyston told The Gazette.
“He says he wants to play in the Premier League, and I hope he does because I think he is good enough.
“I hope he doesn’t end up in the Championship but I fear he might.
“That would be disappointing, but that’s the way it is.
“There are all sorts of rumours that factor into players’ decision to move – not just money. It is geographical reasons and family and so on.”
QPR are the most likely top-flight club to hijack West Ham’s plans to sign Campbell.
Aston Villa and Fulham have also registered their interest, but have yet to make an official bid.
Campbell is sought-after because he comes cheap for a frontman who scored 13 Premier League goals last season – more than any other English striker aside from Darren Bent.
Team-mate Alex Baptiste says there’ll be no hard feeling should Campbell decide to move on.
“DJ will do what is best for him and his family,” said Baptiste.
“He scored a lot of goals last season and the lads will back him whatever decision he makes.
“It would obviously be a massive disappointment to lose him, as it is to lose David Vaughan and Charlie Adam, because we’ve been close to them for three years.
“We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs together, but football moves on and we wish them all the very best.”
If Campbell departs, it means Pool will have lost three main players.
Oyston says that is to be expected. “I remember when Ian Holloway first came in, we agonised a bit over Shaun Barker going,” said the chairman.
“He was a key part of the team and a very good player.
“We had it before that with Peter Clarke. We’ve had it a lot over the years.
“You always do at any football club, but you have to balance the desire to keep them with the opportunity that your players have earned themselves to go and earn a lot more money.
“They had effectively moved on past our salary structure.
“We’ve made every effort to retain all of our players, more than we ever would have done in the past.
“There is still raging madness in football in the top two divisions.
“But as with David Vaughan, it is not necessarily a case of money, it is probably more a case of wanting to play in the top division, and having the ability to be able to do that.