Monday 5 December 2016

Ward comes in from cold for Burnley start

Published 29/12/2015 | 02:30

Burnley's Stephen Ward started his first league game in over a year. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Burnley's Stephen Ward started his first league game in over a year. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Stephen Ward started his first league game in over a year as Burnley maintained their promotion challenge by thrashing Bristol City 4-0 at Turf Moor.

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The Ireland defender had spoken about the possibility of leaving the club in January with his Euro 2016 ambitions in mind because of his inactivity.

But the hectic Christmas schedule presented the Dubliner with an opportunity which he seized as Sean Dyche's charges registered a success that leaves them fifth, eight points off leaders Middlesbrough who leapfrogged Derby by defeating Sheffield Wednesday.

Derby take on Leeds at Elland Road tonight, while there's a clash of the Irish managers at the Amex Stadium where Chris Hughton's fourth-placed Brighton play host to Mick McCarthy's sixth-placed Ipswich.

Alan Judge came out on top in a battle of two Wicklow men at Reading as the talented midfielder was part of the Brentford side that travelled home with three points despite the best efforts of Paul McShane.

Judge, who should win his first cap in March, remains a source of transfer speculation with Swansea and Bournemouth keeping tabs. Coach Dean Smith is determined to keep hold of him if an offer materialises.

"Listen, we have had no bids for him," he said. "I would certainly be telling the football club that if we did, I would want to keep him. He has such a good attitude to play and he is dynamic in what he does."

It was also a good day in League One for Millwall's David Forde who retained his place for their emphatic success at Southend. A suspension to Jordan Archer gave the Galwegian a chance on St Stephen's Day and he kept the gloves for a 4-0 triumph which featured a goal from ex-Irish U-21 international Aiden O'Brien.

Irish Independent

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