Stephen Ward hails Martin O'Neill for instilling a style that the players and fans can get behind ahead of Euro 2016
The Burnley defender has started 2016 in excellent fashion and is excited for what the summer holds as long as he keeps working hard15:12 Saturday 30 January 2016, 15:12 30 Jan 2016
Stephen Ward's season with Burnley did not get off to the best start. After a bad run of results for the club culminating in a 3-0 loss to Hull City, Ward was recalled by Sean Dyche and has gone on to solidify his place at right back as the club attempt to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
They have conceded just two goals in the five games since Ward's returned as a starter and scored 16 while winning four out of five and avoiding defeat in all of them. Ward's form with his club will certainly stand to him come the summer when he is ready to don the Irish jersey in Martin O'Neill's squad in Euro 2016.
The uneasy moments during the first half of the season are not forgotten by Ward, however, and during his chat with Dave and Nathan, he mentions the patience that was required of him and the hard work it will take to stay in a team pushing for automatic promotion. Ward says, "I'm not taking anything for granted, or resting on my laurels, I'm working hard every day to make sure I stay in the team and thankfully the strikers have started banging them in up top for us and I'm a right back in contention for the automatic two spots."
There was talk of a transfer on a loan basis with several clubs interested but Sean Dyche ruled out that possibility as he saw Ward as someone who could be called on if needed, "I had a couple conversations with him earlier in the season, there was times when teams came in for me to go on loan but for whatever reason he needed me around, he didn't have much cover so I was quite patient and for whatever reason, a turn of results or freshen the side up and he made a few changes and I got my chance and at the minute we are doing well but I know things can change quite quickly and I am just continuing to work hard as I have been."
Ireland were almost out for the count in their Euro qualifying group before a draw with Scotland and wins over Germany and Georgia catapulted them into contention for a play-off spot, which they duly won against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ward believes the style of play brought in by O'Neill and Roy Keane has been vital in their resurgence and in the country getting behind the team.
He says, "there was a realistic feeling that we weren't going to beat them[Germany] in terms of possession or having the ball all the game but through sheer hard work and determination and will to win for each other and that's one thing the management staff have really instilled in the boys."
"It's a real club atmosphere and family atmosphere in there and that definitely shows on the pitch and the players have bought into it straight away and the fans and supporters have and there seems to be a great feeling around the whole set-up."
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