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The Argus in Brighton is, this morning, reporting that Burnley have had a third bid for Albion midfielder turned down with the Championship club also having rejected offer from another, as yet unnamed, club, but believed to be Crystal Palace.

Our interest in Stephens is certainly a long running one, becoming public even before the end of last season and we were aware that two previous bids had been turned down by the club who just missed out on promotion last season.

Speculation increased over the weekend that he might be on his way when he was left out of both of Brighton’s friendlies against Stevenage and Luton, but manager Chris Hughton explained that was down to the knee injury that had also ruled him out of the game a week earlier at Aldershot.

“He should be available for Tuesday,” Hughton said. “One thing I can categorically say is he wanted to play (on Saturday). It was us who stopped him because we felt we would give him the extra day on the recovery.”

There has been no suggestion as to what the most recent offer was but with Stephens reportedly keen to return to the North West, he’s from Bolton, I think our interest will have some mileage left in it yet.

Stephens will be suspended for the first game of the season having been sent off at Middlesbrough on the day we clinched the title at Charlton. If we were to sign him now, that would rule him out of the Swansea game. If we were to sign him, say, on the Monday before the Swansea game, he would be permitted to play having served that last game of the three he was banned for in Brighton’s opener against Derby.

Not for one minute do I think that’s in Burnley’s mind, but it is exactly what we did when we signed Andre Bikey seven years ago so we could have him available for the second game of the season against Manchester United.

Having started his career with Bury, and also played for Oldham and Rochdale, he’s been based in the south of England for the last five years, firstly at Southampton and more recently with Charlton and Brighton.

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