Stephen Ward boost for O'Neill ahead of showdown with Poland

Stephen Ward and James McCarthy

Aidan Fitzmaurice

STEPHEN WARD (left) will ease Martin O'Neill's injury fears for next month's Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland as he plans to make his return to fitness against Chelsea this week.

Ward has been sidelined for 11 weeks with an ankle injury he picked up for Burnley against Newcastle United, but the 29-year-old managed two games for the Clarets reserves last week and he hopes to be back in Sean Dyche's first-team squad for Saturday's clash with Chelsea.

"I am fit and well now. I felt great after training yesterday and hopefully I will be in with a shout of making the team for the weekend," Ward told The Herald.

"There's a month to go before the Poland game but all going well I will fully fit and available for selection." Ward's return is a boost for O'Neill but Shane Long remains a concern, along with Aiden McGeady.

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