Ward ready to take on world champions

German challenge: Stephen Ward during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide last week
German challenge: Stephen Ward during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide last week

Stephen Ward is ready to take on world champions Germany tonight in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 Group D qualifying clash.

The 29-year-old was handed his 27th international cap by head coach Martin O’Neill in the 7-0 thumping of Gibraltar in Dublin at the weekend, before being replaced by Hull City’s Robert Brady in the 70th minute.

Ahead of the game at Gelsenkirchen, Ward said: “It’s a massive game, it’ll be a tough one in Germany. We can go over there with a bit of freedom and we can hopefully get a result there as well.

“These are the games you want to play in, it’s an honour to represent your country and if I get chance to turn out for that game it’ll be a privilege. It’s obviously a big task but if we can go there and get a result it’ll be a fantastic achievement for us.”

On his return, Ward’s focus will switch to retaining his place in Sean Dyche’s starting XI ahead of West Ham’s visit to Turf Moor.

The former Wolves man made his first league start for the Clarets in the 2-2 draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, but competition for places is fierce with the expected return of duo Dean Marney and David Jones.

“It was nice to play, I’ve worked hard since I’ve come in,” he said. “I’m still new around the club and obviously with them doing so well last year it was always going to be a patient game. There were a few injuries so I came in and I was delighted.

“It was great to get on. There’s a great spirit among the team and the squad and everyone really feels a part of it. The spirit is similar to the first couple of years we had in the Premier League with Wolves. The manager makes sure that when you are ready to be called upon everyone is ready to go.”

Ward, who had three seasons in the Premier League with Wolves prior to the club’s relegation in 2012, added: “The manager has everyone right on the top of their game and on the top of their fitness and that’s what you need in this league because the demands are so high.

“I think the fitness of the lads in this squad is amazing, I really noticed the difference when I came to the club. I’m sure the results will soon come. We’ve got West Ham at home now and that’s a game we have to go and look to win.”