Jamie Ward enjoys banter with crowd – so long as it isn't too serious
JAMIE Ward is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Nottingham Forest – and their fans – tomorrow.
The Rams take on their neighbours at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday (1pm) in front of a sell-out 33,000 crowd.
Derby have won the last three meetings between the sides, most recently triumphing 1-0 at the City Ground at the end of September.
That was a day of mixed emotions for Ward, who suffered a torn hamstring which would keep him out of action for three months.
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As he limped back to the Rams' dugout alongside physio Neil Sullivan, the Northern Ireland international got into a verbal exchange with disgruntled home fans and was seen picking up some loose change that landed near him.
"I had a couple of quid thrown at me last time as I was walking around the side of the pitch," said Ward, who joked: "I used it to get a McDonald's afterwards!
"They usually say northerners are tight but I got more money from Sheffield Wednesday fans when I was at Sheffield United!"
The 26-year-old says he has no problem with a bit of friendly rivalry, provided it does not go too far.
"It's all part and parcel of the game – perhaps not throwing the coins because they can injure people – but getting into the fans and them getting into you is part of the game. I like that side of it, as long as nobody takes it too personally."
Ward's first experience of playing in an "A52 derby" in September 2011 was a memorable one.
His goal sparked an unlikely comeback as the Rams won 2-1 at the City Ground, despite playing virtually the whole match with 10 men.
"I've got good memories of playing against Forest," he said.
"When we won at their place with 10 men, we showed a lot of character and guts – a bit like they haven't done against us in the past."
Ward is hoping Nigel Clough's men can make it four in a row against Forest in what is traditionally one of the biggest games of the season.
"There is always a good atmosphere and it's a big one for the fans and the players," he said.
"It would be nice to get one over on them again.
"But it's going to be a tough game. We're not daft, we know they're not a bad team, so we're not expecting to blow them out of the water.
"We'll go in with a game plan and, hopefully, get a result."