Jamie Ward joy at return to Derby County squad for Charlton
JAMIE Ward is hoping to mark an end to his injury frustration at Charlton Athletic tomorrow.
The Derby County forward is set to return to Nigel Clough's squad for the trip to the Valley after three months out with a torn hamstring.
Ward, who has missed 16 matches since limping out of the 1-0 victory at Nottingham Forest in late September, is now back in full training and could be handed a place on the bench this weekend.
"We will take him with us and he could be on the bench, which would give everyone a boost," said manager Clough.
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"He's been able to run at a certain pace and do some fitness work – but nothing can replace playing games and that is what he needs now.
"There are no reserve games at the moment, so it might be a case of bringing him on for 10 or 15 minutes."
Ward, who netted four goals in eight appearances before getting injured, said: "It's been very frustrating. Obviously, I'm here to play football and not be injured.
"It's just one of those things. As a footballer, you put your body on the line and you will get injured sometimes.
"It's been tough but the sooner I get back out there, the better.
"I've had no tweaks since I've been back in training, so touch wood, I'm going in the right direction.
"The plan is to travel down with the team and see how I react to the training.
"Obviously, I don't expect to start, so I think the gaffer will ease me back in.
"I've missed a lot of games, so it will take a while for me to get back up to speed.
"It's always hard to catch-up on match fitness and it's going to be tough but I will try my best to get there."
Midfielder Craig Bryson and defender Mark O'Brien are both rated doubtful for the Charlton game.
Bryson was replaced after 65 minutes of the 2-0 defeat at Burnley on Boxing Day as he continues to struggle with a knee injury, while O'Brien is feeling the effects of returning from a lengthy lay-off.
"Both are doubtful," said Clough. "We'll take them with us and see how they are on Saturday morning.
"Neither of them were able to finish the game at Burnley, so with the games coming thick and fast, that puts them in doubt.
"We knew this would happen with Craig. His knee is getting sorer and, at some stage, he will need a breather.
"Once we get into January and the games are Saturday to Saturday, it should make things a bit easier for him.
"I'm not sure Mark will be able to start. He was feeling his groin and his back, which is the result of having been out for 13 months."