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Everybody fears the axe

STEPHEN WARD admits that the whole Ireland side are in fear for their places in the team for tomorrow's World Cup game in the Faroe Islands as the aftershocks of Friday's 6-1 hammering by Germany linger on.

It was an Irish side with battered and bruised pride which left behind their Dublin base at lunchtime yesterday and flew out to the Faroe Islands to take on the group minnows, with morale in the Ireland camp at its lowest ebb since the 5-2 thumping by Cyprus six years ago.

"I think we all have to fear for our places, no one is guaranteed to play now," Ward told the Evening Herald.

"No matter how well you think you did personally on Friday night the reality is that it was a terrible result and any one of us could be out of the team. The most important thing for us now as a squad is that whoever is picked to play tomorrow goes out and gets back some pride for the country."

With the whole nation still numb due to the depths of Friday's humiliation by the Germans there's been essentially one topic of conversation all weekend, and Ward admits that the squad were relieved to get away from Ireland and make the long trek to the Faroes.

"I think it was a bit of a relief to get out of Dublin and get away. The mood obviously isn't the best after the result on Friday night so the best thing for us was to get off to the Faroes and just get ready for the game," he says.

"We are all hurt. I hardly slept on Friday night. I usually find it hard to sleep after a game as the adrenaline is so high just after a match but after a defeat like that, 6-1 at home, it's very difficult to get your head clear enough to get some sleep," added Ward, revealing that the squad -- like everyone else in Ireland -- has been analysing the loss since Friday night.

"We had a chat with the manager after the game and did our recovery. But you don't need a big meeting to discuss that as players, we are with each other 24/7 around the place in the hotel and at training, we are in each others' faces all the time and we have chats about it all along, talk about what went wrong and what we can do to improve it," the Wolves man said.

"We didn't dwell too long on it, the manner of the defeat wasn't good enough and we need to move on quickly because we have a chance to keep the group alive if we win tomorrow night.

"The one positive is that we have a game so close, it would have been awful to wait around until February or March, spend months brooding on a result, we can at least get some pride back and some points with the Faroes game coming so soon after.

"When the group was drawn most people expected Germany to win the group and already it looks like that's the case but we can still aim for second place.

"I think a win tomorrow can keep us in contention for second place, we're very much in the hunt if we can win. Sweden have to go to Germany now and if the Germans win that and we win our game we could be joint second so it's not dead and buried.

"There is of course a lot of negativity but it can be turned around. You look at Wales, they lost their first couple of games and it was all doom and gloom but then they go and beat Scotland and they're right back in it, so we can still stay in contention, if we can win tomorrow it sets us up for the next round of games in March."

Despite going through tough times in the Premier League and Championship with Wolves, and a tricky season at Bohemians, Ward had never experienced a result like Friday's.

"I think 6-1 was the worst result of my career. I don't remember ever conceding six in a game before at any level. It was one of those nights, they had eight attempts on goal and scored six, that's incredible and still hard to believe that it happened," he admits.

"There are ways of losing a game, there are times when you come off the field after a defeat but you can draw some positives from the match, but that didn't happen for us on Friday as the manner of our defeat was so disappointing.

"We lost three points to Germany but not many people expected us to get those points before the group started so if we can go to the Faroes and win, we are right in there in terms of the group and we can battle with the others for second place.

"I think I did okay in the game given that it was a tough night all round, I didn't get too exposed by their winger, but when you lose 6-1 I don't think anyone can really turn around and say that they had a positive impact on the game. As a team we didn't perform and we have to be men enough to admit that. That is the most disappointing part, that we didn't even perform."