He may be in a head-to-head with Robbie Brady for an actual starting place at the Euros but Stephen Ward, you would think, should at least feel pretty much assured of a seat on the plane flying out to France this day week.
Should, but doesn’t. For the ex-Bohs man, as for quite a number of other players, the nerves are tingling at the prospect of all being revealed after the final whistle at Turner’s Cross tonight.
“Yeah, there are nerves, to be honest,” says the Burnley full-back. “And if you ask the lads, I think by tomorrow morning, either way, they will be glad it’s out and you know who is going. It’s been a good week or 10 days and the manager will have all that in his thoughts. And with the game coming up tonight, we want to go out and impress.
“But until it’s in black and white and out, you never know, as anything can happen. I just want to get some minutes under my belt. I’ve been happy with my season but the manager will pick his squad whatever ways he sees is best.” Ward thinks taking the selection decision right to the wire is the right thing to do, even if is nerve-wracking for the players.
“We’ve got a number of players that have played their part, and the manager has been fair to everyone and given everyone a chance to stake their claim,” he says. “Once tonight’s game is over, we’ll be waiting in the wings to see who is in. There will be disappointment for some and obviously elation for others but I suppose that’s part and parcel of the game.”
Having not played a match since helping his club seal promotion to the Premier League, the Dubliner is keen to see some action this evening against Belarus. But would the risk of incurring a late, late injury not play on his mind?
“Not really, you try not to think about things like that,” he says. “It’s another game. I’ve not played since the last day of the season so if I get the nod it would be good to get some minutes under my belt and get a run out.
“Obviously you want a good result but you never go into a game thinking ‘Oh, I don’t want to get a kick’. I’m sure people will be wary of that but fingers crossed nobody gets any bad injuries or bad luck.”
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