Belfast Telegraph

Ward looks to cause selection headache for Northern Ireland

By Rory Dollard

Northern Ireland's latest forward pairing are fast becoming a fine double act – on and off the pitch.

Jamie Ward has started alongside Martin Paterson for the last three matches of the World Cup campaign and that could become four in a row against Azerbaijan tomorrow.

With Ward a diminutive 5ft 5in and Paterson coming in at 5ft 10in their style is less 'Little and Large' and more 'little and little', but when it works as well as it did in the 1-0 win over Russia they are a big hit.

The pair are room-mates this week in Baku, where their budding partnership continues to grow.

"Myself and Pato get on very well and we room together when we're away," said Ward.

"Sometimes it's good to do that with your strike partner because you get a good idea of what they're about as a person.

"I'm enjoying rooming with Martin, he's quite a funny, dry sort of character.

"I think we will blossom together given a few more games. We're able to play together because Pato does the ugly stuff – running in behind and chasing defenders down – more than me. We complement each other because he likes to run towards goal and I like to slip my partner into space.

"I can't knock the partnership up to now. I scored against Portugal, he scored against Russia and Luxembourg and I hit the post against Russia."

The absence of Palermo striker Kyle Lafferty, who is suspended for tomorrow's game with Azerbaijan and on standby for game in Israel on Tuesday, means Ward and Paterson are in pole position but could be fighting for one place.

The Derby forward added: "The lads know me and Martin aren't going to win headers so the style of football changes, for us to be effective it has to come on the floor. We have Laff if we need to hit the big man and what Michael does with him after his suspension is a big decision.

"He'll have to drop someone if he brings Kyle back in so we have to give our all and leave it in Michael's hands."

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