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Ward wants calm heads in Celtic Park cauldron

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Stephen Ward

Stephen Ward

PA

Stephen Ward

STEPHEN Ward has called for calm heads in the middle of what is certain to be an emotional Celtic Park cauldron

"It could be more like an English league game than an international. I think nearly every player plays their game in England. It will be fast and frantic but we'll need to have calm heads there," said Ward.

"We're going away from home, they're probably looking to start fast. We need to be wary of that, and we need to be ready for it from minute one."

Ward points to last-gasp goals against Georgia and Germany as evidence of a growing belief and togetherness within the Ireland squad.

"The team spirit, there is a real closeness in the squad, everyone is fighting until the end and there is a new belief in there.

"We can win games and get results. I think that proves it, two last minute goals, we've kept going right until the end, we've never let our heads drop.

"Even in Germany, against a world class side, in the last 20 minutes, we really took the game to them and probably got our reward in the last minute.

"Hopefully if things go well this time, we won't leave it too late. It's definitely showing a belief in the squad," added Ward.

Ward is friendly with Scotland attacking danger-man Steven Fletcher and he has been in touch all week.

"To be fair, I know him inside out. I've been chatting to him. I know he's looking forward to the game. It looks like he's coming into a bit of form at Sunderland as well.

"He's very good, he can do both, he's well known for his aerial power in the box but he's good with his feet as well. He's done really well since the manager has come in.

GOOD PAL

"I speak to him very often, he's a good pal of mine. I spoke to him last night.

I'm sure it will be back and forth during the week and then on Friday shut off until the 90 minutes are up.

Ward's international revival under Martin O'Neill came on the back of a difficult time at Molineaux and it's no surprise that he is enjoying every second of it.

"I was having a tough time at club level with Wolves so it was nice to get a fresh break last year and get back in the squad, it's great to be back obviously.

"There is a real positivity around the squad again. It's great for spirit, the manager has really brought that in again. In the first couple of games you could see that, there is a spirit back among the players."

Like everyone else, Ward is relishing the prospect of a night in Paradise and like most Irish people, Celtic is close to his heart.

"I played one pre-season friendly there against Celtic for Wolves. I think there were 29,000 there. It's a special place.

"I think any Irish person would tell you they have an affinity with Celtic growing up so you know, it's going to be a real special occasion for us."


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