Jamie Ward is chomping at the bit to show Northern Ireland fans what he can really do.
The Derby County striker is desperate for the chance to link-up with Kyle Lafferty in attack against Luxembourg at Windsor Park tomorrow night after being asked to take on a role in midfield during Friday night’s 2-0 defeat in Russia.
As manager Michael O’Neill goes in search of not only Northern Ireland’s first points in the 2014 World Cup qualifying series, but also his maiden victory as international boss, he is certain to change the shape of the team.
And Ward is hoping that will mean he is pressed into a position where he can do damage to Luxembourg.
“That type of game, in Russia, is not really me, I had to do a job for the team and I thought I did it,” said Ward.
“I worked hard and hopefully on Tuesday it’ll be a different game. I’d rather be going forward than defending most of the time and I’ll be trying to get on the attack if I can — if I’m playing. I’ll play anywhere I’m asked to.”
The ideal scenario for Ward is a Northern Ireland win, with both himself and Lafferty getting their names onto the scoresheet.
“The expectation is on us to go and win and hopefully we can prove why we are expected to win,” said the 26-year-old, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandfather.
“We go into every game thinking we can win, if you don’t think like that then you’re daft
“I like to think I can put the ball in the net, I have done it enough through my career. We have players who score regularly in their own leagues, but it’s different in international football.
“We’re expecting to have a lot of the ball and the main aim is to get Kyle some goals. He’s obviously our number one striker and we’re all working towards getting him a few more goals.”
Russia’s second goal on Friday night came from the penalty spot after Craig Cathcart was punished for a foul on Aleksandr Kokorin. The Blackpool defender still believes the decision was harsh and he expects a very different Northern Ireland performance this time around.
“I think it was 50-50. Sometimes you see them given, sometimes you don’t,” said Cathcart.
“I can see why he has given it, but I can also see reasons why he shouldn’t have. You just have to move on.
“We have a lot of good players, we have players who play in the Premier League every week and we can play a passing game, but in Russia we set out to get men behind the ball and hopefully get something on the counter attack which didn’t pay off in the end.” The 23-year-old also revealed there are no longer any concerns about his health after a heart scare towards the end of last season.
“ I had a check as soon as I needed to and everything came back fine,” he said.
“It was blown up at the time just because of a few things that happened around the same time, particularly with Fabrice Muamba.
“Everything’s fine. I only missed one day of training and that was to go and have the tests done.”