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Joel Ward keeping focus on the pitch for Crystal Palace

The long-serving defender is in line for a testimonial next season if he remains at the club.

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Joel Ward, left, played a key role for Crystal Palace in their goalless draw with Manchester United (Matthew Childs/PA)

Joel Ward, left, played a key role for Crystal Palace in their goalless draw with Manchester United (Matthew Childs/PA)

Joel Ward, left, played a key role for Crystal Palace in their goalless draw with Manchester United (Matthew Childs/PA)

Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward is eager to focus on what he can control and not let criticism or talk over his future impact his performances.

The right-back produced an excellent display on Wednesday night to help the Eagles hold Manchester United to a goalless draw at Selhurst Park.

It made it three games without defeat for Palace since a banner was put up outside the club’s training ground in February which demanded change to a ‘pandemic of apathy’ and added ‘restore the pride, ambition and vision’ at the club.

Ward, who started the win at Brighton and draws with Fulham and United, said: “We focus in-house.

“What we can affect is what happens on the pitch as much as we can and the work that we do Monday to Saturday so we focus on that. The noise outside we can’t control so it is ultimately noise at the end of the day.”

The 31-year-old does have a say over his future and currently he will be out of contract in the summer, with his terms in SE25 set to end.

After making more than 250 appearances for Palace since he joined from Portsmouth in 2012 for a nominal fee, Ward is hopeful he will remain at the club and would be in line for a testimonial next season.

“Hopefully it’ll all work out,” he said. “Ultimately, I can only control what I am doing with the playing side of things and the hierarchy will take care of the rest.

“It is there and hopefully we can get something sorted in the near future.”

While Palace are unbeaten in three games, they have only managed three shots on target during that same period and failed to produce any against Fulham on Sunday.

Signs of green shoots in attack were evident against United and, with Jeffrey Schlupp back from a hamstring injury and top goalscorer Wilfried Zaha set to return from the same problem at Tottenham this weekend or at home to West Brom on March 13, there are reasons to be positive.

Ward added: “The fluidity was there. We had some really nice patterns of play that we have been working on.

“Compared to the last couple of games, we certainly were a little bit more fluid with our possession, getting out from the back through midfield and causing them some issues. Unfortunately, we were unlucky not to snatch three points.”

Another tough assignment lies in wait on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but Palace will take on Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale and company with momentum.

“There is no easy game in the Premier League,” the full-back insisted. “It is always a tough day at the office regardless of who you face.

“The likes of Harry Kane, Son, Bale and those boys – like Manchester United – are formidable but we take the confidence and momentum from these games.

“Hopefully we can put in the same kind of performance and come away with more points.”

PA


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