Ward backs Clarets to push on after first Premier League win!

Irish pride: Stephen Ward holds off a challenge from Georgia's Jaba Kankava during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying, Group D match at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi in September
Irish pride: Stephen Ward holds off a challenge from Georgia's Jaba Kankava during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying, Group D match at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi in September

Defender Stephen Ward is confident that the Clarets can push on and make their mark in the Premier League after registering their first win of the campaign.

Ashley Barnes scored the decisive goal against Hull City at Turf Moor at the weekend to end a run of 11 games in all competitions without a win.

The 29-year-old has started the last three fixtures at full-back ahead of Ben Mee, featuring in defeats against Everton and Arsenal prior to the triumph over the Tigers.

Ward, who spent three seasons in England’s top tier with Wolves before the club’s relegation back to the Championship in 2012, said: “It’s been a tough introduction to the Premier League but we’ve acquitted ourselves really well and we were unfortunate not to get that win a bit earlier. But to get it on Saturday was pleasing, especially at home.

“The gaffer has always kept us believing and everyone sings off the hymn sheet. We’re all working towards our goal of staying in the Premier League. To get that win will definitely help the confidence.”

Ward added: “We need to push on now. It gives us the belief that we can win games in the Premier League. It’s massive, when I was at Wolves we got our first win in our second game and it gave us great belief and great confidence.

“It’s been a while coming here but the lads have never lost that belief and I think coming off that season like last year, they’ll always believe and it’s great to finally get that win and hopefully we can push on now.”

Meanwhile, Ward is expected to shake off a minor knock in time to feature for the Republic of Ireland tonight in their UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifier against Scotland at Celtic Park.

Having helped his nation to a 7-0 win over international minnows Gibraltar last month, Ward then played an integral part as Martin O’Neill’s side held World champions Germany to a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen.

“It was great, it was an unbelievable occasion, it was a tough game, but we went there stayed in it and got a result,” said Ward, who missed Tuesday’s training session alongside Everton’s James McCarthy.

“It was a great night and one I really enjoyed. To go to the world champions and get a result is up there but we won’t really look back at it too much until the qualifying campaign’s over and if we do qualify for the tournament. There were a few I had to mark - Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze - they don’t stay in one place. It was a tough game but we did well.”

Ahead of the clash with Scotland, Ward added: “It’s a big game. The atmosphere will be unbelievable for the fans. It’s going to be a tough game against Scotland, they are a force at the moment and they’ve had a great couple of years but hopefully we can go there and get a result. I don’t think there’s many who don’t follow Celtic so for an Irish team to go there and play an international is great.”

The Republic of Ireland will then face USA in an international friendly at the Aviva Stadium on November 18th.

Elsewhere, Clarets goalkeeper Matt Gilks has again been named in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad though Cardiff City stopper David Marshall is likely to be given the nod.

After tonight’s game at the home of SPL champions Celtic, the Scots will welcome England to Glasgow for a friendly four days later.

Finally, midfielder Cameron Howieson has flown out to Nanchang to team up with his New Zealand team-mates.

The 19-year-old, who made two appearances for the Clarets in the Championship in the 2011/12 term, replacing Josh McQuoid and Junior Stanislas in respective fixtures against Birmingham and Bristol City, has joined the All White’s tour that will take in games against China tomorrow and Thailand on November 19th.