Derby County manager Nigel Clough gambles on striker Jamie Ward's fitness – and wins
NIGEL Clough has revealed the size of the gamble Derby County took in playing top scorer Jamie Ward in the crucial victory over Leicester City.
Ward missed three months earlier this season with a torn hamstring and another hamstring problem had sidelined him for the two games before Leicester visited Pride Park.
The striker did little or no training last week as Clough weighed up the risk of sending him out against the Foxes.
Derby, without a win in eight games, needed points to prevent them slipping closer to the Championship relegation places.
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Ward played on the left of a four-man midfield and he gave Leicester problems.
His free kick created the first goal in the 2-1 win before he was replaced by Ben Davies after 62 minutes.
"If we had been sitting on 50 points already, we would not have played Jamie. We weren't and so we had to go with him," said Clough.
"He made the first goal and got an hour under his belt but that's all we could get out of him because he is still feeling his hamstring."
Clough said the injury would prevent Ward from going away on international duty with Northern Ireland, who face Russia in a World Cup qualifier in Belfast on Friday night.
Clough said playing midfielder Craig Bryson against Leicester was also a big gamble. Bryson has been struggling with a groin injury but he completed the full game.
"His sheer will gets him through games – it's incredible," said Clough.
"He ran and ran for the full game and he will need a few days just to recover."