Half measure an encouraging sign as Jamie Ward continues comeback from injury
JAMIE Ward was delighted to get through more than half a match of first-team action for Derby County against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Rams forward was called upon to replace the injured Will Hughes shortly before the interval in Saturday's Championship clash at the Amex Stadium.
Ward's return from three months out with a torn hamstring just after Christmas was short-lived, when he hobbled off only minutes after coming on as a substitute at Charlton Athletic. But after playing an hour in a friendly against Burton Albion last Tuesday, he was back on the bench for the Brighton game.
"I was only expecting to get about 20 minutes but obviously the injury to Will pushed things on a bit," said Ward.
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"To get 45 minutes was a bonus for me and I felt fine. There were no problems.
"The hour in midweek was to test the hamstring and build up a bit of confidence, so it was important I got that in.
"I was delighted to get on as early as I did."
Derby were trailing by two goals by the time Ward was introduced.
His free kick was turned in by Jeff Hendrick with 20 minutes remaining to give the visitors hope but they were unable to find an equaliser, despite late pressure.
"It wasn't enough in the end but I don't know how we've lost that," said the Northern Ireland international.
"We had a mad period when we conceded two goals, where we should have done better.
"In the first couple of minutes, we just didn't switch on. We've got a lot of young lads in there and they're still learning but the more game time they get, the more experience they will get.
"However, I didn't think we had too many problems in the second half in terms of them going forward. I think we definitely deserved something from the game."