Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Northern Ireland v Finland: If I get chances I’ll score goals, promises Ward

Jamie Ward is determined that he will be more than just a five minute wonder for Northern Ireland.

And with manager Michael O’Neill desperately looking for someone to take over the mantle of record goalscorer David Healy, the Derby County man’s timing could be spot on.

Three-and-a-half years on from his first senior call-up, Ward’s international experience amonts to just a single cap, as a late, late substitute in the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands this time last year.

At 26-years-old there is little likelyhood that he will be a one-cap wonder, but not that long ago he was wondering if he’d ever get to make his international debut.

Having done that, he is keen to emerge from the many disapointments caused by a string of injuries — one of which was picked up in training before O’Neill’s debut against Norway in February — and become a favourite with the Windsor Park faithful.

“It’s good to be back involved,” said Ward.

“It’s been frustrating. I got called up for the first game under the new manager and got injured in training.

“I’d like to think if I’d been fit I would have got a game, but then I was injured in the summer and I couldn’t go to Holland.”

Given that the game against the Dutch ended in a 6-0 defeat, maybe missing out wasn’t such a bad thing as O’Neill has more or less consigned that particular outing to the dustbin already.

It’s tonight’s Windsor Park clash with Finland that interests Ward more, with a chance to stake a claim for a place in the team for the opening World Cup quailfier against Russia next month.

“My international career has been a bit stop-start,” said Ward.

“I was called up by the last manager, but obviously he didn’t fancy me enough to put me on the pitch as much as I think he could have.

“I’d like to think I’ll get more caps, but it’s down to the manager and also me to perform as best I can. I just need an opportunity for longer than five minutes.”

Goals have been at a premium for Northern Ireland since that win against the Faroes 12 months ago. Only two have been scored in the six games since, with O’Neill still waiting to experience the feeling of seeing his team score.

“The most important thing is scoring goals and we’ve got players in the team who can do that,” he added.

“I’d like to think that I can deliver goals, but a lot of that depends on where the manager plays me.”

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Ryan McGivern has turned down a move to League One Brentford, but is expected to leave Manchester City before the close of the transfer window.

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