Ward return to action a boost ahead of Forest clash
JAMIE Ward has handed Derby County a boost as they prepare to face Nottingham Forest in the East Midlands' showdown.
The striker has been troubled by a hamstring problem but he came through Saturday's game at Brighton after replacing Will Hughes shortly before half-time.
A torn hamstring sidelined Ward for three months and his comeback against Charlton Athletic at the end of December was cut short due to a tight hamstring.
He is now in the frame to start when Forest visit Pride Park Stadium at the weekend, provided he suffers no reaction.
Nigel Clough was delighted to see Ward back on the pitch.
"It was great to see Jamie back out there," said the manager after the 2-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.
"We were a bit reluctant to bring him on just before half-time. We were two down and we didn't want to take any undue chances.
"But you also want to try to get something from the game and he got us going a bit in the second half.
"He is closer to starting now.
"Hopefully, he will have a good week's training and be ready for Saturday. He'll be available to start, we hope, and we'll consider it."
Ward is unlikely to figure in today's Professional Development League Under-21 game against Coventry City at Nuneaton Town today (1pm).
He had been due to play a part but that was before he appeared against Brighton.
"We'll just let him get a good week's training," said Clough.
Ward's last start was in the 1-0 victory over Forest at the City Ground on September 30, the day he suffered his hamstring injury.