Ward hoping to defy Clarets critics

Back in: Defender Stephen Ward was recalled to Burnley's starting XI for the 3-1 loss to Everton at Turf Moor
Back in: Defender Stephen Ward was recalled to Burnley's starting XI for the 3-1 loss to Everton at Turf Moor

Defender Stephen Ward insists the Clarets foster the character to keep their heads held high after the club’s winless streak extended into double figures.

The 29-year-old was recalled to Sean Dyche’s starting XI for the 3-1 defeat to Everton at Turf Moor after missing out on the loss to West Ham United on home soil the previous week.

The Republic of Ireland International, who was involved in his nation’s European Championship qualifying games against Gibraltar and Germany earlier in the month, said: “It’s positive. This season is a big step up for a lot of the lads.

“It’s their first time playing in the Premier League but we’re learning every week.

“People won’t give us a chance to stay up now but it’s up to us to keep the spirit.

“We’ve got a really good group of lads and hopefully in the next four or five games we can start taking points to give ourselves a real fighting chance come the second half of the season.”

Ward, who made his second league start of the term at the expense of Ben Mee, got across to block Romelu Lukaku’s initial attempt before the Belgium international was afforded a second bite of the cherry to find the corner and restore Everton’s lead just before the half hour.

And Ward believes that’s the kind of misfortune that has been tarnishing Burnley’s campaign to date.

“I got the block in on the first effort but it just seems to be the way our luck is going,” he said.

“It ricocheted off one or two people and it’s just landed right at his feet.

“Even the finish - Tom (Heaton) said he didn’t hit it very cleanly and that’s caused him a bit of a problem. It’s unfortunate.

“There’s positives to take again but we haven’t got the points we’ve merited.”

He added: “I enjoyed it and I enjoyed being back in there.

“It was a tough game for us. First half I thought we did really well and we stayed in the game well in the second half.

“We worked very hard, particularly in that first half when we got it back to 1-1, and even when they scored the second we were still well in the game.

“Second half we were disappointed not to give them a bit of a scare.

“Unfortunately Eto’o has come up with a wonder strike right at the end to kill it off.

“Those are the lessons you learn in the Premier League.”

Ward, who had made 94 appearances in England’s top tier before his summer move to Turf Moor, is now hoping to be involved in Saturday’s clash against Arsenal at the Emirates.

“I felt as though I acquitted myself well and I enjoyed it,” he said.

“We’ve got a good set of lads, a good group, so we’ll move on to Arsenal next week.

“The games against the top five or six are very tough and going to Arsenal next week nobody will give us a chance.

“You’re coming up against some of the best players in the league.

“We’ll keep plugging away and hopefully we’ll get the results as soon as possible. There’s always pressure to perform.

“We want to go out, give it a go, and hopefully cause an upset. You just never know in this league.”