Defender Ward closing in on a first team return

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Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ward could make a return to action this week.

The Clarets defender, signed in the summer from Wolves, has been out since suffering a fractured ankle against Newcastle United at Turf Moor at the start of December.

Stephen Ward is carried off the pitch.

Stephen Ward is carried off the pitch.

But the 29-year-old could make his comeback with the development squad this week after returning to full training.

Ward’s return would be a timely boost, but midfielder Matt Taylor, however, has suffered a knockback in his recovery from surgery to remove a spur on his heel which has ruled him out since September.

Dyche said: “Wardy is going nicely. He’s back training with the players actively, and looking well. He’s getting a lot closer and hopefully we’ll get him some game time soon, possibly this week.

“But Matty’s not there yet, he’s progressing, but it’s a delayed one, it’s not where we wanted it to be.”

As Dyche looked ahead to tomorrow’s trip to Manchester United, he preferred to focus on the positives after Sunday’s 2-2 draw with West Brom which lifted the Clarets out of the bottom three: “Its my job to see where performances are, to see where we can go with it, and where we are, considering most of you told us ‘no chance’ at the beginning of the season, less chance after game 10 - well here we are, 17th in the Premier League. Onwards and upwards.”