Tuesday 23 January 2018

Ward confident he can do a job for Trapattoni if he gets friendly call-up

WOLVES man Stephen Ward says he's confident he can deliver for Ireland if Giovanni Trapattoni takes a chance on him when he picks his squad and team for next month's friendly against Norway.

As the dust settled yesterday from the aftermath of the draw in Slovakia, Trapattoni's thoughts turned to the Norwegian clash and the Ireland boss has already suggested that fringe players such as Marc Wilson, James McCarthy and Jonathan Walters will get a chance.

But Wolves star Ward (pictured below) is also praying that his name is not forgotten when the panel is picked for the Dublin tie. "I am fully fit, I am playing regularly in the Premier League and I think I am playing well so I hope I can get the call," Ward told the Evening Herald today.

"People keep asking me if I am frustrated or annoyed at not making the Ireland squad and while I do want to get in there and play for my country, I don't let it get me down or frustrate me. All I can do is keep playing as well as I can for Wolves. If I can stay in the Wolves side and keep them in the Premier League then I have to have a chance at least.

"I can't moan about not being in the squad. Ireland have been doing very well under Trapattoni and I can't complain about Kevin Kilbane being ahead of me as he's been one of the best full backs Ireland have had in the last while," added Ward, whose international experience has never been allowed to progress further than U21 and B caps.

"But if I do get the call for the friendly I will come in, train hard and try to prove myself in the game, show the manager that I deserve a chance to be there on a long-term basis," he added.

The former Bohemians man appears to be cursed when it comes to international football. Back in 2007 he got the call from then manager Steve Staunton for a summer tour of the USA but Ward picked up an injury and was unable to travel, thus denying him a guaranteed cap.

There was more disappointment last summer when Ward was named in the original squad for the two friendly games at the RDS but a knee injury necessitated an operation and Ward missed out again. But now he says he's over all his injury worries and is in the form of his life in the Wolves defence. "I am fully fit, thank God, and I have stayed in the team so that's a bonus for me, and Mick has kept me at left back, which allows me get a run in the side," he says. "I think left back is my position now and that's where I'd like to stay with Ireland."

Of course it was not a good week on the international front for his clubmates at Wolves. Kevin Doyle was booked and injured during Friday's defeat to Russia and missed the draw in Slovakia, while defender Kevin Foley was cruelly denied the chance to make his long-awaited competitive debut for Ireland (after four long years in the squad) when the Spanish referee blew for full time before Foley -- already stripped and ready for action -- could come on for the injured Aiden McGeady.

"I spoke to the two lads and they were both disappointed," says Ward. "Doyler was gutted to miss out on the Slovakia game but the main thing was that his injury wasn't as bad as feared and he might be OK for our game at the weekend.

"And it was hard on Kev Foley to miss out again. He was so close to coming on as sub and getting his first competitive game, but hopefully he will get a chance in the Norway game next month too. To me, Kevin Foley has been one of the best right backs around in the last few seasons. He's been unbelievable for us and it would be great to see him get a cap," added Ward.

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