Ireland's Stephen Ward jets in for a date with Cristiano Ronaldo

The Wolves defender could be up against the FIFA World Player of the Year on Tuesday.

Stephen Ward was summoned from his summer holidays to face Portugal.
Stephen Ward was summoned from his summer holidays to face Portugal.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

JUST WHEN STEPHEN WARD thought he was out, Ireland have pulled him back in.

The Wolves defender is on his way to the United States to join up with Martin O’Neill’s squad after Marc Wilson tweaked his hamstring after 40 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Costa Rica on Friday.

O’Neill said, “Marc was feeling tight at the start of the half and it just kept going. He doesn’t feel as though he’s pulled it which is maybe a God-send but he said it was very, very tight and he couldn’t continue. He will be out now. I wouldn’t foresee him at all being fit in a couple of days.

I spoke to Stephen yesterday [Thursday] and I just said  ’let’s see how we get on tonight in terms of injuries and such things’ but I would hopefully be calling him in [Saturday] morning. He is ready and willing to come.”

There is a possibility that Ward could be marking Cristiano Ronaldo if the Portuguese star is given a run-out at allay fears over his knee [tendinitis] problems. He would certainly be the wiser bet to start on the left side of Ireland’s defence after James McLean underwhelmed in the position when drafted in to cover for Wilson.

O’Neill, again, refused to answer any questions about Roy Keane but assured reporters he would speak about his assistant’s job offer from Aston Villa after the Portugal game. He does seem likely to make Steve Walford a permanent addition to his coaching staff.

O’Neill commented, “When this trip is over, I will sit down with them and see. I’ve enjoyed them. I know what they’re capable of doing, particularly Steve Walford, whom I’ve had for quite some considerable time. I think they’ve enjoyed it as well. We’ve lots to work on.

Gavin Cooney
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“They are [not] used to this because they are day-to-day coaches. But they’ve really enjoyed it. I think, again, they can give us a little bit in terms of organisation and little things like this here but I will see. I will speak to them and probably sit down after we’ve had the Portugal game.”

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