Ward: We Need to Be Better But We're in a Strong Position
Friday, 15th Jan 2021 12:37
Defender Stephen Ward still believes Town have a lot to play for over the remainder of the season and is refusing to rule out the possibility of promotion.
The Blues may not have looked like contenders for a return to the Championship as they were beaten 3-2 by strugglers Swindon last week but the former Republic of Ireland international sees tomorrow’s trip to bottom club Burton as an ideal opportunity to get back on track.
Asked if he felt Town could still finish in the top two and guarantee automatic promotion, Ward said: “Yes. It’s a strange season because we’re in the middle of January and we’ve still got four games to go before we reach the halfway point.
“But if you asked anyone what they would prefer – a strong second half or a strong first half – I know what the answer would be.
“We know we need to do better but we’re still in a strong position. We’re only a couple of points outside the top six and only a couple of back-to-back wins from pushing towards the top two again. When I was watching games because we were off with Covid there were some strange results throughout all the leagues.
“We want to win every game but we’ve got to win this one at Burton. The important thing in this league is that when you lose a game you look to react as quickly as possible and that’s what we need to do.
“With everything that’s happened since Saturday – everyone laying their cards on the table, lads having private chats about how we can do things better and more injured players coming back – we really need to start all over again.
“That means winning on Saturday and pushing on as quickly as possible. We still have 27 games left to play and we want to make sure that no matter what stage of the season we’re at we are in and around the top six places and even the top two.
“We’ve not been out of the top six a lot this season and we need to ensure we’re back there for the business end of the season.”
Town face promotion rivals Peterborough tomorrow week and then it’s a case of eight weeks of Saturday and Tuesday fixtures, a gruelling programme that will include long midweek trips north to face Hull, Accrington and Fleetwood, all of whom will also consider themselves as contenders to go up.
Ward’s eyes lit up at the prospect and he added: “I’m actually looking forward to it. As a player you just want the games to keep coming round thick and fast.
“After our performance against Swindon last Saturday we were gutted that we didn’t have a game on Tuesday because we wanted to make amends as soon as possible.
“We’ve got players back and there is more strength in depth, plus competition for places, within the squad.
“We’ve just got to keep ourselves right and there’s not a lot we can do outside of football. It’s just a question of resting and recuperating after one game and preparing properly for the next one.
“It’s going to be tough but it’s going to be tough for everyone. It’s a level playing field for us all because we all have to cope with things like protocols, games coming thick and fast, injuries and of course the virus.
“Fingers crossed, we have to hope that we’ve come through the worst of it and that’s the way it feels. We need to get going again from Saturday at Burton.”
Ward was one of the eight players who tested positive for Covid, which led to four league fixtures being postponed, but he reported: “I’m fine now. I had a few symptoms – sweaty and shivery for a couple of days and not really myself – but once I got through the first two or three days I was fine. Thankfully, my wife and kids didn’t get it too, so that was a bonus.
“But it hit us hard as a club. Whether it was the new strain spreading that bit faster, I don’t know, but it spread quickly through the squad and it made us all realise what’s out there and what people have to deal with.
“We’re fit, healthy and young enough to bounce back. I was back to normal after a few days, although I had to follow the guidelines and isolate for longer.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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