Ward was always committed to club!

Burnley's Stephen Ward Burnley Football Club's Fans Milton Keynes Dons Darren Potter''Photographer Mick Walker/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet Championship - Milton Keynes Dons v Burnley - Tuesday 12th January 2016 - Stadium:mk - Milton Keynes''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Burnley's Stephen Ward Burnley Football Club's Fans Milton Keynes Dons Darren Potter''Photographer Mick Walker/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet Championship - Milton Keynes Dons v Burnley - Tuesday 12th January 2016 - Stadium:mk - Milton Keynes''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

Defender Stephen Ward says that he was never disillusioned with life at Turf Moor despite suffering a prolonged absence from Sean Dyche’s starting XI.

The 30-year-old endured a 12-month spell on the sidelines with the knowledge that game time was a necessity if he was to make Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland squad for the Euro 2016 finals in France.

Ward revealed that he did seek assurances from Dyche regarding his future, though there was never a temptation to leave before his fight for first team football paid off.

The former Wolves man was drafted in to form a part of Burnley’s new look defence in the 4-0 thrashing of Bristol City and has since contributed to three clean sheets as well as scoring in the FA Cup third round triumph over Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

“Obviously it’s something that you have to consider,” he said. “I never really wanted to go anywhere else because I love working here.

“I had a few conversations with the manager but nothing really too formal.

“They were just little chats here and there. I’ve had to be patient but I’m happy to have got a few games under my belt and hopefully I can keep performing from now until the end of the season.”

With the Boys in Green making up Group E alongside Belgium, Italy and Sweden, Ward added: “For myself it’s important that I try to keep playing because that’s the only way you’re going to get picked in the summer.

“It was great for myself, Sam and Tom to be involved in the qualifiers. It’s all about our club football at the minute because there isn’t another game until March and then the summer.

“If we can have a successful season at club level - which is our main focus - then it’d be lovely to have that bonus in the summer which is massive for everyone.

“You need to be playing and if we’re doing well then all the better. At this moment on it’s all about Burnley. We need to keep playing well, kicking on and get ourselves right in the mix.

“There’s a good pool of players he can pick from so the most important thing is that when you get your chance at international level you do it properly.

“I’ve enjoyed the games that I’ve played so if I keep going at Burnley then I’ll give myself a chance.

“There are a lot of good players but hopefully I’ll be among those names in the summer.

“At the minute I’m just concentrating on doing well here and keeping my place in the team.”

Ward shares a commute to Gawthorpe with winger Micheal Kightly and insists the pair have always remained in good spirits. Ward accepts that nothing has changed in terms of mood even with their recent inclusion.

“We’re always alright,” he said. “We’re fine. It’s a great squad of lads that we have here and everyone is really positive whether they’re playing or not.

“I’m sure people on the outside can tell that we train hard, everyone is in it for the same reason and the manager instills that in us all.

“It’s nice to be playing but even when we weren’t we were coming in every morning with smiles on our faces, ready to go and ready to work hard.”

Ward is expected to make his fourth league start of the term against Brentford at Griffin Park tonight and he’s expecting a tough test.

“Every game poses a different threat,” said Ward. “Brentford are a really good side and strong at home. It’s one where we’ll have to be on our guard, they ran Middlesbrough really close.

“They’ve changed their manager and they still seem to be firing on all cylinders. We’re under no illusions, we know it’s not going to be an easy game. . We’ve got a good mentality here now and we go in to every game having prepared right.”