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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

'We see Zlatan week in, week out but it's not only him we have to be wary of'

Ireland full-back Stephen Ward has been speaking about Sweden’s biggest threat.

Ibrahimovic up against Wales' Aaron Ramsey in a recent friendly.
Ibrahimovic up against Wales' Aaron Ramsey in a recent friendly.
Image: Joe Giddens

Ben Blake reports from Versailles

WHEN YOU THINK Sweden, you think Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

During a trophy-laden career that has taken one of the world’s top strikers to Ajax, Juventus, both Milan clubs, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, the 34-year-old has become an ambassador his national team and country.

Ibrahimovic, who has has been strongly-linked with Manchester United as he is currently out-of-contract, is likely to pose Ireland their biggest threat when they face Sweden at the Stade de France in Euro 2016 on Monday evening.

It is likely to be the Swedish skipper’s last major tournament and he will no doubt be eager to entertain in the city he called home for four years.

According to Ireland and Burnley full-back Stephen Ward, however, the Boys in Green will concentrate on the entire opposing team and not just its talisman.

“We’ll do our homework on the whole squad,” said Ward. “We see him (Zlatan) week in, week out in the Champions League and we know what a threat he is, but they are a good side as they have shown in qualifying and in previous major tournaments, so it’s not only him we have to be wary of.

Obviously we will look at him, but there are others as well and we need to make sure first and foremost we prepare as a team to give everything.

“He’s obviously a great player and hopefully we can keep him quiet.”

Republic of Ireland Training Session - Turner's Cross Stephen Ward is in contention to play on Monday. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

After an excellent second half to the season with Burnley, Ward has played his way back into Martin O’Neill’s plans and is pushing Robbie Brady for that left-back role at the finals.

“It’s a squad of 23 and the manager had some very difficult decisions to whittle it down just to 23 because a lot of people have played a big part in qualification.

“Everyone wants that shirt, but whatever team the manager picks on Monday, as a squad we want to come and make an impression in the tournament.”

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

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