Derby County hoping striker Jamie Ward will be back in action quickly after latest injury scare
DERBY County are hopeful that Jamie Ward's latest hamstring scare will not see the striker spend another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Ward returned to the team as a substitute in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic at the Valley following three months out.
But his comeback lasted only 15 minutes before he was helped off after feeling his hamstring tighten.
He still had time to score Derby's equaliser from the penalty spot and take his goal tally to five in nine matches this season.
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Ward is likely to miss tomorrow's home game against high-riding Middlesbrough but manager Nigel Clough has his fingers crossed that the player will not be out for long.
"Jamie just felt his hamstring tighten a little bit, so we decided it was best to get him off, as a precaution, especially given how long he has been out," said Clough.
"From what he said to us, he just felt it a little bit and nothing had gone or anything like that.
"It might need a few days to settle down again. Tuesday might be too soon for him, so we are looking towards next Saturday against Tranmere in the FA Cup."
Ward came on after 69 minutes for Will Hughes, who hobbled off after he took another knock on his ankle.
Ward was then replaced by Michael Jacobs after 84 minutes.
Clough was pleased to see Ward back.
"He did a few training sessions last week, so we were confident he could do 20 minutes," said Clough.
"It was only Will's injury that forced him on and at 1-0 down, you take a bit of a gamble. It was a risk we had to take and we hope we don't get punished for it too much.
"Jamie tucked his penalty away very nicely and we've missed him.
"He has that ability to create something out of nothing and get you a goal as well.
"He's one of our main players and without him, Shaun Barker, Jake Buxton and Craig Bryson – four of your main players – it is very difficult."
Derby's point, following consecutive defeats at the hands of Hull City and Burnley, lifted them a place to 11th in the Chamopionship table, although Watford's win at Brighton on Saturday evening stretched the gap between the Rams and the top six to six points.
Their next game is against third-placed Middlesbrough and Clough is hoping Hughes can shake off his latest knock.
"Will has been carrying an ankle problem and someone caught him in the midfield with a late tackle right on the sore spot again," said Clough.
"But he'll be all right in a few days, when we play again.
"Knocks are part and parcel of the game and Will is learning that.
"The way he plays, he is going to get kicked but, hopefully, not too many times."