CHERRIES boss Lee Bradbury is anticipating a battle royale as the gloves come off in the duel for the number one spot at the Seward Stadium.

Bradbury knows current first choice Shwan Jalal and new signing Darryl Flahavan will both rise to the challenge during pre-season.

The pair are expected to share the goalkeeping duties when Cherries open their warm-up campaign against Hamworthy Recreation tonight (6.30pm).

Flahavan’s arrival last month coincided with Jalal revealing talks over a new contract with Cherries had reached an impasse after he rejected two offers.

And while Jalal told the club “the ball is in their court”, both Bradbury and chairman Eddie Mitchell have insisted their last offer was also their final one.

Should he fail to agree a new deal, Jalal would be entitled to a free transfer next summer and Mitchell has already said the club may have to cash in now rather than risk losing him for nothing.

However, speaking to the Daily Echo last night, Bradbury confirmed the club had yet to receive any enquiries for Jalal.

Bradbury added: “We have tried our best to sort out a contract with him but have not been able to. We have been trying for quite a while but can’t reach an agreement, financially. We put the best deal we could to him.

“He is employed by AFC Bournemouth and I know he won’t get side-tracked because he is such a good professional.

“Signing Darryl shows we are serious about doing well this season. They are both going to want to play and I have told them the best keeper throughout pre-season will get the jersey.”

Bradbury, meanwhile, said he was still “hopeful” Cherries could agree a deal with Charlton defender Simon Francis.

While the two clubs finalised a fee for the 26-year-old last week, talks over the player’s personal terms have dragged on.

• Speculation linking Wolves left-back Scott Malone with a loan move to the Seward Stadium intensified after the player had posted a message on Twitter.

Reports last month suggested the 20-year-old was set to join Cherries for the season, although the story was described as “premature” by Bradbury.

However, in a tweet on the social networking site on Sunday, Malone wrote: “Off to Ireland for a game Tuesday. Then a trip to the south coast Thursday.”

Malone has also started following Twitter accounts associated with AFC Bournemouth, including the Daily Echo’s @Bournemouthecho.