Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ward's return provides cheer for Dyche and O'Neill

Stephen Ward has been on the sidelines since December after a fractured foot cut him down just as he was getting a regular run in the Burnley side
Stephen Ward has been on the sidelines since December after a fractured foot cut him down just as he was getting a regular run in the Burnley side
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Ward has delivered a boost to his managers with club and country by returning to fitness ahead of Burnley's weekend trip to Chelsea.

The Dubliner has been on the sidelines since December after a fractured foot cut him down just as he was getting a regular run in the side with the club he joined from Wolves last summer.

Ward had to wait until October for his league debut but he then became a regular for Dyche in Burnley's battle with relegation until he limped off in their encounter with Newcastle.

There were positive soundings about his well-being earlier in the week and his boss confirmed the left-back's recovery yesterday.

"Wardy has made great progress; probably quicker that we thought, through his own pushing to get fit again," said Dyche.

"He feels really good, so he will come back into the squad at least."

Recalled

It is also good news for Martin O'Neill who recalled the ex-Bohemians man into the international fold when he took over the reins from Giovanni Trapattoni.

Ward was his preferred choice for the first phase of Euro 2016 qualifiers with Marc Wilson converted into a central option.

Dyche spent most of his press conference discussing the future of star attacker Danny Ings who is out of contract in the summer.

The 22-year-old has met Real Sociedad boss David Moyes with regard to a possible move to Spain as he is entitled to talk to other clubs.

Liverpool and Manchester United have also been linked with a swoop. His current boss has asserted that the player is focused on the task at hand ahead of a daunting encounter with Jose Mourinho's Premier League favourites.

"It's just a reality of the business now," said Dyche. "That's what the rules state. He's respectful of it.

"I've got no reason to doubt his thoughts about Burnley Football Club and what we're doing, you can tell that by his performances. He's been terrific all week in training so he certainly looks ready to play.

"He's known me a while so he knows he can trust me, and I think he trusts the people here. We're always very honest and open and I think he understands that."

Meanwhile, back at home, Sligo Rovers have helped out north-west rivals Finn Harps ahead of their forthcoming First Division campaign by sending them promising youths Ruairi Keating and Regan Donelon on loan until June.

Irish Independent

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