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Fit-Again Ward Feeling 'Good and Strong'

Defender hopes to help Clarets enjoy big finish after injury absence

6 February 2018

Stephen Ward is eager to lend his weight to the Clarets’ end-of-season push after stepping up his comeback from injury.

Ward played for almost 75 minutes as an over-age player in the Under-23s’ 3-0 Professional Development League defeat at Huddersfield Town on Monday.

That followed 10 senior games out of action after a niggling knee injury which finally caught up with the experienced left-back during December’s 1-0 win over Stoke City.

The victory over the Potters was the Clarets’ last win and with a third of the season remaining, Ward is keen to get back and play his part in building on a run that has included five draws in the last nine league games and kept Sean Dyche’s men in seventh place in the Premier League.

“It felt really good. It’s just important to get back on the pitch and get used to playing,” said Ward after a flawless run-out at the Terriers’ training ground.

“It’s nice to be feeling good and strong and to get a few minutes out there.

“It’s not really in my hands but I’m feeling good and ready to go. I’m feeling a lot sharper, so we’ll see what happens.

“We’ve had a great season and the more bodies we can have back now, hopefully that will help us have a strong finish.”

Ward’s presence couldn’t prevent Michael Duff’s side slipping to a third successive defeat and staying stuck to the bottom of the table after conceding three second-half goals.

But Duff was delighted to have the Republic of Ireland international, 32, on board to help teach some good habits to his youthful squad.

The Under-23s boss said: “He looked comfortable. It’s good every now and again to get a first-team player in and out because the lads see how they prepare for games as well.

“They watch the way he goes about things in the dressing room. His pre-hab, the way he warms, the intensity he warms up.

“Wardy has got nearly 50 international caps and played in European Championships.

“That’s a bit of insight into the professionalism you need to have off the pitch and which you need to carry onto the pitch.

“And that’s the bit we didn’t have. It was all right when it was going all right.

“But when it didn’t. We didn’t really react positively.”

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