The boy done good!
He has been used in a whole range of positions along the back four and in midfield; at times he even looked our most impressive attacking option!
Quite what Joel Ward's best position is in many ways is still to be determined really. He has always said that right back was his preferred area but I tend to think a 'box-to-box' midfielder could be his log-term home now and as his career develops he will eventually drop back into a more defensive midfield role.
Ward has been around the club for quite some time now, by my reckoning the likes of Shaun Cooper and Jason Pearce were others around when he was a real youngster and have both spent loan spells with Bournemouth, as Ward did, but unlike them he is still here and they are now there permanently, although Pearce may not be for much longer...
In our final premier league season it 'looked' like Ward would make a real breakthrough under Paul Hart, albeit it by chance due to our numbers in many way, although injury saw him miss a huge chunk of it, nevertheless he eventually arrived and got himself known.
2010/11 was a fantastic season for him and a real breakthrough one, he played almost 50 games! To be honest he started the season nervously, and I had a few doubts about him to tell the truth, and sometimes he had that 'cat in the headlights' look about him but he grew in confidence and with this he grew into the squad and the starting 11 as it went on but I do think he got tired towards the end of the campaign.
2011/12 'could', many would argue 'should', if he is used as fairly as his ability suggests he should, be even better for him and us!
The time being spent in America will do him good I think. The strengthening of his legs etc. will benefit all and help make him into that box-to-box player he could be with that extra strength, stamina, power and stronger mentality needed. I will not say he will be 'the next' Bryan Robson but something in that mould is possible. Without doubt he has the right passion that the former England captain had, so this is a decent starting point and there is that raw ability too.
The Emsworth lad has done good!
Not bad considering Wardy was one of those that the manager was willing to part with early on, one of the very first ones he 'apparently' wanted us to part with, with him 'said' to be one of those that a quick decision, after 10-minutes, was made on. Concerns were that his fitness was questionable as was an injury background along with the fact that he had been at the club so long without making that sustainable step-up. Add to this that 'not having a recognised position' was a concern for Cotts - ironically enough this proved one of the main pluses, and strengths, for the season for us as he could fill in all over! First impressions often count for a lot but they are not the be all and end all of things are they...
I have my concerns that Ward is still one of those that will be pushed aside in favour of others that maybe 'do not deserve' a place, on merit, but I do hope that this does not prove to be the case.
Being local will always help Ward with the fans, we see this regularly and Cotts also witnessed what we thought of him first hand - getting the brunt of the fans' frustration at times when he constantly took him off ahead of others that were more deserving of being hauled off at times.
Continued, dare I say even improved, performances like last season will give him added support for a long time to come...
PLAY UP POMPEY!