‘He gives us great energy, great quality’ – Northern Ireland glad to have Nottingham Forest’s Jamie Ward back for World Cup play-off


Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is not concerned about Jamie Ward’s lack of action for Nottingham Forest going into their big World Cup qualifying play-off against Switzerland.

Ward has only been on the pitch for a total of 40 minutes for the Reds so far this season in the Championship.

After suffering a calf injury during pre-season, he returned to action as a sub against his former club Derby just over two weeks ago, playing the final 30 minutes at Pride Park.

And he came off the subs’ bench for a second time for the last 10 minutes of Forest’s 3-2 win at Hull City on Saturday.

Nottingham Forest’s Jamie Ward

The 31-year-old forward has one last chance to play for the Reds before reporting for international duty, when QPR visit the City Ground on Saturday.

It’s hardly ideal preparation for the two-legged World Cup play-off for Ward, with Northern Ireland facing Switzerland at Windsor Park in Belfast next Thursday night and then travelling to Basel for the second leg on Sunday, November 12.

But O’Neill, who guided them to second place in their qualifying group behind Germany, insists he is a key man for his country.

“Jamie is a player we always miss if he’s not with us,” he said.

“He gives us great energy, great quality in the final third.

“His minutes have been very limited this season but we know that if he is fit he gives us something, whether it’s from the start or off the bench.

“He’s a player we certainly missed in the second half of the campaign.”



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