Clarets defender Ward eager to keep hold of the shirt

Burnley's Scott Arfield, left, and Burnley's Stephen Ward during the pre-match warm-up ''Photographer Chris Vaughan/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet Championship - Hull City v Burnley - Saturday 26th December 2015 - Kingston Communications Stadium - Hull''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Burnley's Scott Arfield, left, and Burnley's Stephen Ward during the pre-match warm-up ''Photographer Chris Vaughan/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet Championship - Hull City v Burnley - Saturday 26th December 2015 - Kingston Communications Stadium - Hull''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

Having waited patiently in the wings, Clarets defender Stephen Ward is now even more determined to keep hold of his shirt after making a rare start.

The 30-year-old, signed from Wolves in August 2014, made his first league start for the club in over 12 months when replacing Michael Duff for the 4-0 thrashing of Bristol City at Turf Moor.

The Republic of Ireland international, who helped Martin O’Neill’s Boys in Green reach the finals of the European Championships in France, was in the XI for the 1-1 draw against Newcastle United in the Premier League but had made just four substitute appearances since.

After contributing to an eighth clean sheet of the campaign against Steve Cotterill’s Robins, Ward said: “It’s obviously nice to play. It’s a quick turnaround after the game on Saturday so the manager freshened it up. I was obviously delighted to play and delighted to get the win.

“It’s always difficult because every footballer wants to play on a Saturday afternoon. But like the manager always says ‘we’ve got a great group here’. We support each other and train hard so you know when you get your chance you’ve got to take it. I really enjoyed the game.

“When you’re waiting in the wings it’s difficult but we’ve got a great group of lads here who are all in it together. We’ve just got to keep ourselves in good nick which helps when you come in for games.”

Ahead of the first fixture of 2016 against Ipswich Town tomorrow, Ward added: “We’re very pleased and our home form has been excellent. We’ve got another big one on Saturday and we need to concentrate on that.

“I’ve just got to work hard and see what it brings. The manager will pick the team on Saturday and if I’m in, great, if not then then I’ll work hard to get back in.”