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World Cup hopeful Ward Lifted By Premier League Campaign

Stephen Ward looks for Irish progress after Clarets' confidence booster

6 June 2017

Stephen Ward says helping Burnley stay in the Premier League has been a major confidence booster as he chases a place at the 2018 World Cup Finals.

Ward was a key man for the Clarets as they finished the campaign in 16th place in the league - six points clear of the drop zone.

The ultra-consistent left-back missed only one game as Sean Dyche's men sustained their top-flight status and believes his game has benefited as a result.

Ward said: “It was brilliant and I’ve taken a lot of confidence from it.

“The year we went up, the year before, I felt I had a really solid season.

“Obviously it helps when the team is doing well, but being in the Premier League again next year is great. It's given me great confidence.

“I’ve had good seasons before in the Championship but at that level, it’s great. The manager was a defender himself and has given me a few little tips - you’re always learning."

Ward was given a breather at the end of a "mentally tough" domestic campaign to re-charge his batteries, but is now on international duty with the Republic of Ireland and aiming to win a 43rd cap on Sunday.

He is one of four Burnley players in Martin O'Neill's squad preparing for a World Cup qualifier against Austria in Dublin.

The unbeaten Irish are currently joint top of Group D and a fourth win in six games would edge them closer to a place in the finals in Russia.

“With Ireland, the more lads we have playing at that level will be brilliant," Ward told Dublin Live.

“We’ve had a good start to the campaign and if we can get a good result Sunday, we’ll be in a great position.

“It’s what we all want - it’s the be-all and end-all. It's the biggest competition in the world.

“We’re all pulling in the same direction. It’s a great group now, there’s a good mix of youth and experience.

“It would be the biggest achievement of everyone’s career if we can qualify.”

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