Derby County striker Jamie Ward sharpens up his act after injury lay-off
JAMIE Ward's lively display in the victory over Huddersfield Town shows that the striker is edging back to top form, according to Derby County coach Andy Garner.
Ward played a key role in Saturday's 3-0 win at Pride Park Stadium.
He scored one and delivered the free kick from which Richard Keogh headed in the Rams' third.
It was Ward's third start since missing more than three months with hamstring trouble and he received a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.
Garner felt Ward's game benefited from him playing closer to centre forward Conor Sammon in a 4-4-2 formation.
"Jamie looked really sharp," said Garner. "He is getting back to fitness. He has got a little bit more to do but he is not far off now and I think that showed in his all-round performance.
"Jamie has a tendency to drop a little bit too deep because he wants to get on the ball and he wants to dictate but we told him to play a bit higher up the pitch and in and around Conor.
"I think that benefited him.
"Wardy was out a long time but he has had a few games now and he is looking a lot sharper.
"He is certainly a threat. He makes things happen."
Craig Bryson converted a fine low centre from Paul Coutts for Derby's first goal after 24 minutes before Ward's left-foot volley from a Gareth Roberts cross found the top corner just after the half-hour.
Keogh made it three with a header after 59 minutes.
Garner was impressed by the quality of the goals.
"Jamie's was a brilliant finish and they were three brilliant goals," he said.
"There was a bit of criticism for Couttsy (Paul Coutts) after the Blackburn game because he did not get enough crosses in.
"He took that on board and after a brilliant build-up, he whipped in a great ball for Craig Bryson to score.
"Couttsy has that ability.
"He has been the first to hold his hands up and say his form dipped a little bit of late but that was more like him against Huddersfield."