Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Ward out to Take Shock Chance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Ward out to Take Shock Chance

Article excerpt


DARREN Ward had always hoped he would get a chance to play in the Premier League for Sunderland, but the goalkeeper admitted he had been surprised by manager Roy Keane's decision to drop first-choice shotstopper Craig Gordon at the weekend, writes LUKE EDWARDS.

Ward started his first league game of the season in the 1-0 win over Derby County last Saturday and made one vital contribution when he somehow tipped Kenny Miller's first-half strike onto the post after a mistake by centre-back Danny Higginbotham.

And, although the 33-year-old has plenty of sympathy for Gordon, who has, on the face of things, done little wrong since his clubrecord pounds 9m move from Hearts in the summer, he is aiming to ensure the Scotland international has to endure a few more frustrating weeks on the substitute's bench.

"I was surprised at being selected," said Ward, who had not played a league game for the Black Cats since last season's promotion celebration against Burnley back in April. "In my opinion Craig is an excellent goalkeeper and the club shelled out a lot of money for him so I expected him to play a few games.

"But it's the manager's call, he's made the decision and it's up to me now. It's a goal of mine to be playing regularly.

"To achieve what we did last season gave me more hunger, so personally the start of the season was disappointing. But the lads have been really supportive and I'd like to continue playing and keep my place in the side."

Gordon's demotion at the weekend came as a shock to many observers, as well as Ward and, although Keane attempted to downplay the significance of the decision in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's win, it is difficult ignore the fact his most expensive summer signing is no longer an automatic choice in the side.

Nevertheless, Keane's brave decision paid off with a first clean sheet for his side since the opening day of the season and it seems the Irishman has decided that Gordon - who is still just 24, despite having several years of first team experience with Hearts - will benefit from a rest. …

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